Penn State’s Lunar Lion Director, Michael Paul, is your 2014 Homecoming Honorary Grand Marshal, as announced yesterday during the annual Homecoming Legacy Celebration in the HUB.
Paul is the director of the Lunar Lion team, the first ever university-led mission to the Moon, which is vying for a chance to win $20 million from the Google Lunar X Prize competition. Also a space systems engineer at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory, Paul worked at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory prior to coming to Penn State from 2000 to 2008. There, he was the spacecraft systems engineer for NASA’s MESSENGER Mission to Mercury, and earned an M.S. in applied physics.
“I was thrilled when I found out,” Paul said. “Even though I did not graduate from Penn State, I have felt an intense sense of family since joining this university.”
In December 2015, the Lunar Lion lander will take off on board a commercial launch vehicle. Why to the moon? It’s an ideal platform from which to study the Earth and the wider solar system and universe, according to the Lunar Lion website.
Homecoming Alumni Relations Director Madison Benfield said that the selection of Paul enjoyed a good deal of support from the students, given the potential impact of the Lunar Lion mission on the space industry and the Penn State community.
“We believe that Mr. Paul is perfect for this role because he really embodies the spirit of Penn State,” Benfield said.
Homecoming it set to take place the week of September 20, leading up to the football game against Northwestern on September 27.