It’s a Penn State team most have never heard of. But when the Lunar Lions reach their goal, the world will know them.
“When we’re done with this mission, it’ll be the United States, Soviet Union, China and Penn State that have landed space craft on the moon,” said team leader Michael Paul.
That’s right! Penn State is going to the moon. It will be a first-ever university-led mission to land a robotic space craft on the surface of the moon.
For the 120 students and faculty involved in the mission, it’s the ultimate hands-on class project. Aerospace Engineer senior Patrick Gorski, Lunar Lion team president, is in his second year with the unprecedented school project.
“In our classes, we obviously learn all the theory and the tools that we need,” said Gorski. But, this project shows us how to use those tools.”
The lunar mission originally started as part of a worldwide competition sponsored by Google, with a 20-million dollar prize. And, although the contest launch deadline of December 2015 is no longer doable, Penn State remains committed to the mission when enough funds are raised to secure a place on a launch vehicle that will take them into space.
Creed Reilly, Aerospace Engineer sophomore said being part of this mission has given him experience he never dreamed he would see at the college level.
“I never thought I would be able to do something that cool,” he beamed, looking over a scale model of the landing craft. “I can say, oh, yeah. I built a rocket. It’s really a cool feeling.”
Throughout the four day journey to the moon, the lunar lion will beam back high resolution pictures and videos to Penn State’s mission control center. After landing, the craft will re-launch from the surface to a second landing site, a first in the history of space exploration.
“Nothing is as cool as what’s happening at PSU right now,” declared Reilly, as he headed off to his next class.
“It’ll be a great triumph for our students, for the university and for America,” said Paul.
More details at: www.lunarlion.psu.edu/the-mission