Penn State Lunar Lion Team

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Penn State Lunar Lion Team
Industry university
Founded 2013 (2013)
Headquarters University Park, Pennsylvania, United States
Key people
Michael Paul

The Penn State Lunar Lion Team is a team of Penn State students and engineers from the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory. The team hopes to develop and land their spacecraft, the Lunar Lion on the Moon. The team is led by Michael Paul, a space systems engineer at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory.[1]

The team, which is privately funded, has secured its first $2.5 million, most of which was internal funding, to get the project started. They expected to raise a significant amount through fund raising and individual contributions through their website, but have fallen short of their goals.[2]

The team was formerly a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, but has since withdrawn.[3]


The Lunar Lion is the spacecraft currently being developed to reach the Moon. The craft is planned to be sent on a commercial launch vehicle which will send it into space and place it on a trajectory to the Moon. It is then expected to make a controlled descent to the lunar surface where it will transmit high-resolution photographic images and video to the mission operations center at Penn State. The craft will then take off and fly a short distance to a second landing site while streaming the event live.

Testing and development[edit]

Phase 0[edit]

At the end of October 2013, the team successfully finished Phase 0, a series of tests that validated the rocket-testing procedure. The phase included the development of contingency plans, safety plans, and thorough rocket testing procedure. As part of this phase, full rocket firing was simulated and investigated. Test plans must meet the Environmental Health and Safety Standards.[4]

Phase 1[edit]

Phase 1 included testing of combustible liquid fuel, a NASA-provided pencil thruster, and custom thrusters developed at Penn State.[4]

Phase 2[edit]

The initial liquid bipropellant part of this phase was completed towards the end of summer 2014. The team is now characterizing and testing hydrogen peroxide monopropellant thrusters. These are used on the first flight vehicle the team has constructed, a prototype called Puma. Each of the four 100 lbf engines is currently being characterized in order to generate a thrust profile which will be used on Puma's flight testing. Puma was developed for constrained vertical flight, with guide cables restricting motion to a single axis. Static testing of Puma began during the summer of 2016, and a constrained flight test is scheduled for the fall semester.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE TEAM". Lunar Lion. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Lunar Lion team leader gives mission update to trustees". Penn State News. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Cappelli, Kathy. "Lunar lions complete first phase of rocket testing". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved November 25, 2013.

External links[edit]