A recent news report suggests that China has an ambitious plan:

to send three artificial moons into space in the next four years

that would be

bright enough to replace the streetlights in the south-western city of Chengdu by 2020

The source of the report is "state media People's Daily" (but also the state-run Xinhua media agency) and quotes are attributed to "Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Corporation".

This sounds like a hoax or legend to me.

Attempts to Google that company just lead to variants of this report, although the vaguaries of translations mean this doesn't mean the company doesn't exist on the web.

Putting aside whether the plans are technically feasible and/or funded, is there are private or public effort to launch satellites that illuminate cities in China?

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    First off, one needs to note that Sputnik was an "artificial moon". – Daniel R Hicks Oct 18 '18 at 12:21
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    Either a hoax, or a plan thought up by people with no knowledge of spaceflight or optics. To light up a particular area, you would need to put your "moon" in a geostationary orbit - over 35000 km above the earth - and you would need a parabolic mirror aimed at the place you want to illuminate. You will also have to correct the aim continuously. So, hoax or concept from naive people. – JRE Oct 18 '18 at 12:22
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    Snork Translating from any language is hard. Getting it right and conveying all of the meaning from the original into the translated version is next to impossible. As an American living in Germany, I see this every day. Even within one language it is difficult. I like older music (from the 1960s) and even there meaning is lost just from differences in the daily use of words. – JRE Oct 18 '18 at 12:31
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    I think we can all agree that they aren't using the terms like an astronomer. If a moon is defined as a natural satellite, then artificial moon is an oxymoron. However, it is clear what they mean - an artificial satellite that reflects the sun's light in a way that is not just clearly visible, but its reflections off items on the ground are also visible. – Oddthinking Oct 18 '18 at 13:09
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    @JRE: you are focused on the feasibility of the project. Lots of infeasible projects get funded. I am more interested if the report is true: is there a company planning this? Is Wu Chunfeng a real person? Did this report really appear in two state-run news agencies? – Oddthinking Oct 18 '18 at 15:02

An earlier (11 October 2018) Chinese-language article, reported from a special event for the integration of civilian and military entrepreneurship held on 10 October 2018.

The article says that in 2020, this "artificial moon" will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan to illuminate the night sky.

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