Chengdu could save $174 million in electricity every year

China is launching an artificial moon to replace streetlights.

According to China Daily, China’s space industry is preparing to launch the world’s first man-made moon.

Situated 500km above Chengdu, the artificial moon will be launched the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan by 2020. If successful, similar objects will be launched by 2022.

The man-made moon will reflect sunlight back to earth, just as the moon does, according to Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society in Chengdu. However, the artificial moon will have eight times the brightness of the actual moon, which is 380,000-km above the earth.

It is hoped that the artificial moon will replace streetlights in the urban area.

“But this is not enough to light up the entire night sky,” Wu said. “Its expected brightness, in the eyes of humans, is around one-fifth of normal streetlights.”

According to Wu, Chengdu could save around 1.2 billion ($174 million) yuan in electricity annually with the artificial moon.

Mirrors on the artificial moon are adjustable and can be turned off when not needed. Extra light can be used in disaster zones during black out, aiding relief and rescue missions.

However, Wu and his team are aware that the artificial moon could disrupt the sleep and metabolic patterns of people and animals.

“We will only conduct our tests in an uninhabited desert, so our light beams will not interfere with any people or Earth-based space observation equipment,” he said. “When the satellite is in operation, people will see only a bright star above, and not a giant moon as imagined.”

“The first moon will be mostly experimental, but the three moons in 2022 will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential,” Wu added.

Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp have evaluated and approved the project.