Chengdu in China Wants to Illuminate Streets with an Artificial Moon

Forget news, fake moons are on the rise. Within the next two years, the Chinese city of Chengdu is planning to give its streets some extra illumination by launching a satellite disguised as an artificial moon that will emit a powerful light, which in theory can replace street lights at night.

Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, announced plans to launch the artificial moonlight in 2020. Intended to act as a streetlight supplement, once in orbit the device will use reflective material to provide the residents of Chengdu with extra light and lessen the need for street lamps.

Designers say the fake moon boasts a ‘dusk-like glow’ that will be around eight times brighter than the real moon and will be able to light an area with a diameter of six to fifty miles. The area of Chengdu is far greater than this, so the satellite won’t cater for the whole city, but the Research Institute say the illumination range can be controlled within a few dozen metres.


Chengdu’s artificial moon will work by reflecting light from the sun using solar panel-like wings. The current plan is to have the craft revolve in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 310 miles, putting it above the ISS (248 miles) and below the Hubble Telescope (353 miles).

Naturally, there have been concerns raised about Chengdu’s artificial moon; most notably the negative effects it could have on daily routines of certain animals and astronomical observation. Though the makers have said that the satellite won’t be powerful enough to have any harmful effect. As of yet, there’s no extra details about the design of the moon, so watch this space.


Earlier this year, The Great Wall of China’s cultural department rejected plans from Airbnb to allow guests to spend the night on a section of the historic landmark.