China is poised to launch a moon-like satellite into space with the aim to provide illumination for its urban centers, by 2022.
The controls and launch plans will be ready by 2020 but the actual launching would take place two years later. The ambitious plan, orchestrated by the Asian giant, consists of launching a satellite into the Earth’s atmosphere — approximately 500 kilometers over Chengdu — which would function as a reflective mirror for sunlight.
“By then , the three huge mirrors will divide the 360-degree orbital plane, illuminating an area for 24 hours,” according to Wu Chunfeng, director of Tianfu New District System Science Research Institute of Chengdu.
The “man-made moon’s” purpose is to help illuminate urban areas in order to assist in cases like blackouts and natural disasters. The reflection of light from the sphere, which would cover an urban area of 3,600 kilometers to 6,400 kilometers, will have an intensity of approximately eight times that of the real moon’s light.
According to Wu, this project would generate considerable savings in urban centers. “Using man-made moon to illuminate an area 50 square kilometers can save 1.2 billion yuan [more than US$170 million] in electric charge.”
The project is not without precedent. Russia attempted a similar launching of a mirror into space during the 1990s, to reflect sunlight over its territory, however, the mirror failed to unfold and the project was subsequently halted.