Penn State is Going to the Moon
No, seriously. Penn State plans to send space craft “Lunar Lion” to the surface of the moon by 2015.
Though we’re probably not going to have a commonwealth campus on the moon, a team of students and Penn State advisers is competing against 24 other teams in the intercollegiate space race sponsored by The Google Lunar X PRIZE.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a challenge held by Google for teams to privately fund a spacecraft design that can complete several requirements — because just landing on the moon isn’t enough for the first prize of 20 million dollars.
If the Lunar Lion will champion us that $20 million, here’s what it has to be able to do:
“… Safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded, though commercially reasonable sales to government customers are allowed without limit.”
Currently, the Lunar Lion is expected to launch in 2014 next January from Cape Canaveral for its 5.5 day voyage through space.
This video (made by State High student Sean Colby) shows how our Lunar Lion will work:
Even if we don’t win the first prize of $20 million, we’re certain to win something — there are $30 million total in prizes. More importantly, this could be a great opportunity for research recognition at Penn State. If we can land something on the moon, the possibilities are really endless.
Check out their Youtube channel, if you’d like to see more videos!