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New moon: China to launch lunar lighting in outer space

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Full Moon (Shutterstock)

China is planning to launch its own ‘artificial moon’ by 2020 to replace streetlamps and lower electricity costs in urban areas, state media reported Friday.

Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan province, is developing “illumination satellites” which will shine in tandem with the real moon, but are eight times brighter, according to China Daily.

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The first man-made moon will launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, with three more to follow in 2022 if the first test goes well, said Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society, the organization responsible for the project.

Though the first launch will be experimental, the 2022 satellites “will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential,” he said in an interview with China Daily.

By reflecting light from the sun, the satellites could replace streetlamps in urban areas, saving an estimated 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million) a year in electricity costs for Chengdu, if the man-made moons illuminate an area of 50 square kilometers.

The extraterrestrial source of light could also help rescue efforts in disaster zones during blackouts, he added.

AFP was not able to contact Wu nor the Tian Fu New Area Science Society to confirm the reports.

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As China’s space programme races to catch up with that of the United States and Russia, a number of ambitious projects are in the pipeline, including the Chang’e-4 lunar probe — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — which aims to launch later this year. If it succeeds, it will be the first rover to explore the “dark side” of the moon.

China is not the first country to try beaming sunlight back to Earth. In the 1990s, Russian scientists reportedly used giant mirrors to reflect light from space in an experimental project called Znamya or Banner.

Chengdu’s artificial moon project was announced by Wu at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu on October 10.

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In addition to Tian Fu New Area Science Society, other universities and institutes, including the Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, are involved in developing Chengdu’s illumination satellites.


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Medical expert doubts Trump’s claim every America will have a COVID vaccine by April: ‘I don’t see how that’s possible’

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Speaking on CNN this Friday, professor of tropical medicine, Dr. Peter Hotez, pushed back on President Trump's claim that every American will have access to a coronavirus vaccine by April.

According to Hotez, there's "just too many unknowns right now" for Trump or any other administration official "to make such a statement.

Even if the vaccines currently in development work, "we don't have the details on the distribution," he added.

"There's going to be a lot of unknown questions," he continued. "We have to really take it in stages."

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‘That is not true’: MSNBC cuts away from Trump’s press briefing after he claims Biden is anti-vaccine

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During a press briefing at the White House this Friday, President Trump touted the coronavirus vaccine currently in development, preemptively calling it “successful” and saying that it will save “millions of lives.”

While making his comments, Trump took a dig at Joe Biden, claiming he espouses "anti-vaccine theories" and he's "putting a lot of lives at risk" for "political reasons."

Trump's words prompted MSNBC's Ayman Mohyeldin to cut away from the briefing and issue a fact check.

"Obviously there's no evidence of that -- that is not true," Mohyeldin said.

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‘Deranged’ Trump mocked for declaring himself ‘the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico‘

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During a press briefing on Friday, President Donald Trump claimed that he was “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.”

The president was commenting on the fact that the White House had authorized $11.6 billion in aid to rebuild infrastructure on Puerto Rico three years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

But given that Trump reportedly wanted to sell Puerto Rico or swap it for Greenland because he viewed the US territory as dirty, many people on Twitter did not take kindly to his boast.

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