Penn State Lunar Lion Withdraws From Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition
Penn State’s Lunar Lion team, whose goal is to land a spacecraft on the moon, unfortunately announced that is has withdrawn from the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, according to Penn State. Though Lunar Lion has been working hard since joining the competition in 2011, an independent panel brought in to review the team’s current status did not feel the group could have the project completed by XPRIZE’s December 31 deadline.
Even though they are no longer competing for Google gold, the team’s goal has remained the same: landing on the moon. The crew hopes to be brushing moon dust off of their equipment within the next decade, and experts strongly advise the students to continue their efforts. The panel was particularly impressed with Lunar Lion’s innovative, hands-on approach to the project, and additionally praised multiple technical aspects of the project.
“We knew the timing was tight from the beginning, but we wanted to give it our all and we definitely want to continue on our path to the Moon. The most important aspect of our original mission — student opportunities in space exploration — remains the same as we continue the Lunar Lion program,” said Michael V. Paul, Team Lead and Director of Space Systems Initiatives at Penn State’s Applied Research Lab.
Though the panel determined it necessary for Penn State to pull out of the official competition, suggestions were made to continue to benefit students who become involved in the initiative. Some of these plans are already in the works, including the creation of a course that allows participating students to receive credits for their time and efforts.
In a field of 28, Lunar Lion was the only university-led program in the XPRIZE competition. The team began as a humble, privately supported organization that has grown to include hundreds of students, with skills ranging from engineering and business to communications and astronomy. Penn State still has the opportunity to be the first university in the world to accomplish the feat of landing on the moon.