Officials in China have announced that in the near future they would like to launch an artificial moon into space. While city officials’ explanations for the new technology sound admirable on the surface, it isn’t difficult to imagine something going wrong with this plan. The script goes like this:
Obi Wan Kenobi: That’s no moon… It’s a space station.
Han Solo: It’s too big to be a space station.
Luke Skywalker: I have a very bad feeling about this.
Chengdu is a southwest city in China and is arguably one of the most significant innovation hubs in the world. In response to an increased strain on global resources, the government in China has been actively seeking solutions to created sustainable long-term outcomes. One of the suggestions is to launch an illumination satellite into space to light the night sky as a second moon.
Interesting Engineering reports that plans for the artificial moon have been in process since as early as 2013. Recently, details were revealed at the National Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurships Week in Chengdu, suggesting that a new moon could be launched imminently. The second moon supposedly would create a “dusk-like glow,” shining eight times brighter than the real moon. According The People’s Daily, the second moon would be able to be controlled to focus light in a diameter ranging from 10-80 km (6-50 miles).
Currently, the Star Wars-like project is headed by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd. The Chinese government’s hope for the project is that it will reduce the rising cost of energy demands in the country. Still, the unintended side effects of the ambitious endeavor have not been thoroughly investigated.
It is very easy to imagine that the increased light pollution created from the project could have an unexpected and unintended impact on the environment and animals in the region. Oftentimes, with the best of intentions, humans create technology that isn’t properly vetted. Since this project has already been in development for years without anyone knowing about it, is unlikely that proper ecological studies have been done to determine its actual future impact. For many nocturnal species in the region, the new moon may literally be a first iteration Death Star.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. Are you in favor or are you against China launching a second moon in the sky and why?
2. What might be other solutions that would be more reasonable for China to implement first to develop sustainability in the region?
3. How do you envision accountability measures between countries being created so that emerging tech can be discussed before implementation to avoid adverse results?