Youth Put a Lunar Lion On the Moon

The Eagle Landing Module from Apollo 11 was restored for the National Air and Space Museum. The Penn State Lunar Lion will be smaller, yet similar.
The Eagle Landing Module from Apollo 11 was restored for the National Air and Space Museum. The Penn State Lunar Lion will be smaller, yet similar. | Source

Youth and His Team Sending a Landing Device to the Moon

July 20, 2014 was the 45th Anniversary of the iconic first Apollo Moon Landing.

The last human moon landing was in 1973 by America's Apollo 17 astronauts and the last unmanned missions ended with the USSR/Soviet Union’s Luna 24 on August 22, 1976.

The next lunar landing of any type at present is expected to be that of a team including an ambitious young man in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). CAP Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Ben Garelick of the Pennsylvania Wing of the Civil Air Patrol is an important part of the team that can launch the first spacecraft and lander to the moon by 1) a private company or 2) a university.

Penn State is the only university in the competition.

The team includes 265 people at Pennsylvania State University that are competing in the Google LunarX Prize contest with a final deadline in the year 2015. The contest goal it to successfully design, build, and launch a landing unit to the moon. After that, the lander is to record and send data to Earth, and then jump, burrow, or fly across 500 meters to another spot and transmit additional data.

The Lunar Lion

Several Google LunarX Prize teams had their camera-equipped landers (like rovers that do not roll) ready to go two years before the 2015 deadline, in 2013. None were launched and the public did not know the cause of the delay.

What we now understand is that the LunarX teams must also raise money and then design and manufacture an entire launch rocket (Commercial Launch Vehicle or CLV), at least two large rocket engines with the help of 3D printers, and other parts and equipment; pay fees for renting an area of Cape Canaveral or other spaceport launchpad and related facilities, and meet other expenses.

Note: Penn State was able to pay its launch fee early, in 2013, at a cost of an undisclosed amount (rumored to be $100,000) to Team Phoenicia LLC, of Menlo Park, California. This is a company that decided to drop out of the LunarX contest and concentrate on providing lower cost launches while retaining high quality, accuracy, and safety. (Retrieved 09/5/2014 from Penn State Lunar Lion Press Releases at http://lunarlion.psu.edu/press-release-roaring-to-the-moon-lunar-lion-pays-launch-reservation-fee/)

The top prize in the contest is $30,000,000 but expenses may add up to a larger amount. The expenses at NASA required to complete such a project tower above this prize purse.

Many teams were unable to complete their missions, because of the costs and the amount of engineering and manufacturing steps required by the project. The Penn State team overcame those obstacles. Their project is named the Penn State Lunar Lion.

Video by Lunar Lion Fan Scott Manley

Ben Garelick

Ben Garelick (twitter.com/B_Garelick) has benefited in astounding ways from his career in the Civil Air Patrol and form personal experience. His father was one of the First Responders at the 9/11 attack on the World Trade towers in 2011.

The organization is an axillary to the Unites States Air Force, but not part of the military. The youth members range in age from 12 to 21 and train hard in Search and Rescue so that they can aid first Responders in a number of emergencies, including national disasters.

The youth cadets and senior members (over age 21) have been instrumental in saving lives in circumstances involving tornadoes, avalanches, mudslides, blizzards, airplane crashes, and several other types of emergencies during the many decades since Pearl Harbor. Youth especially have related opportunities to learn to fly and earn a private pilot's license.

Two good friends of mine are retirees who are senior members and still very active in Search and Rescue Drills (SAREX). Men and women from Middle School through their 70s accomplish unexpected successes in training and in the field during actual emergencies, the oldest members giving advice and aiding in other ways. Americans who are looking for something in which to take pride in our country can look to them.

During WWII, CAP members flew their own planes without payment or reimbursement of any kind to defend the US Eastern Seaboard against German U-boats that attacked commercial oil-tankers, going so far as to drop bombs when necessary. This is the type of volunteer dedication behind parts of the Penn State Lunar Lion.

Ben is a freshman at Penn State at this writing and is very excited and dedicated to Lunar Lion. A New York City son, Ben joined CAP in the Brooklyn Tech Commander Squadron as a freshman in high school. He was particularly interest in the aviation and aerospace exploration program that CAP offers. Further, he is instrumental in planning and executing Search and Rescue ground training drills; he also serves as an evaluator and fills additional duties.

This young man is an important part of the Lunar Lion propulsion system team (see information below). His efforts and those of his teammates will ensure that the lander will be able to complete a single hop of 500 meters (1,640+ feet or about 1/3 mile) over the surface of the moon to broadcast images and other data from a site beyond the original landing footprint.

The Director of Lunar Lion, Michael V. Paul stated:

Ben is our designated Space Encyclopedia... He sends NASA technical reports to other team members while pointing out how cool the content is.

-- (Civil Air Patrol Volunteer, page 13. July - September 2014)

Single-Propellant Engines

The Penn State team was able to procure four single-propellant engines to power their Lunar Lion once it is on the moon. The four engines, powered by H202 (hydrogen peroxide), will propel the lander through the air in a 500-meter hop.

Previous aerospace engines for these purposes used a combination of two fuels: Ethanol (pure drinking alcohol) and LOX (liquid oxygen).

The theme of the Lunar Lion team project is to keep things simple. less expensive, and less time consuming, so a single-ingredient propellant is perfect for the Lion.

Lunar Lion

Lunar Lion landing unit at Mission HQ, September 2014.
Lunar Lion landing unit at Mission HQ, September 2014. | Source

The Lunar Lion is Smart

Like NASA and its 63+ company Commercial Crew of private partners, Penn State LunarX team leaders made public and private partnerships in the fields of design, engineering, aerospace, manufacturing, and several other arenas.

The Lunar Lion team includes Penn State students and staff as well as scientists and engineers in the associated Penn State Applied Research Laboratory. You can follow Lunar Lion on Twitter at twitter.com/LunarLionPSU.

In early September 2014, Lunar Lion's Mission Control Headquarters was opened and its twitter handle is twitter.com/MissionHQ. The headquarters is open to the public for visits, according to latest Twitter posts.

Mission HQ Location:

Research Building West on North Barnard Street

  • Just northwest of the corner of North Atherton Street (US 322) and Railroad Ave.
  • Call the Applied Science Building for hours: (814) 863-9939.

Leaders from Lunar Lion also participate at some events at the local Discovery Space Museum:

  • 112 W. Foster Ave., Suite 1 State College, PA 16801
  • (814) 234-0200

Lunar Lion Team Leaders

Director Michael V. Paul, Space Systems Engineer with experience at NASA and Johns Hopkins. twitter.com/MV_Paul

  • I think that this gentleman is the perfect leader who is active, accessible, exciting, and believes in his mission, his colleagues and teams, and the public's faith and support for space exploration.

Program Director Bryan Miller, a Research and Development Engineer with Penn State who flew with the US Navy.

Director of Development for Research and the Graduate School, Steve Blake. With nearly 30 years of successful experience, he is likely the biggest reason that Penn State has been able to raise fund to complete the Lunar Lion project.

Mission Systems Engineer Sara E. Lago. She seems the epitome of the proverbial "rocket scientist" with substantial experience in Research & Design, testing,and flight of spacecraft and related equipment.

Spacecraft Systems Engineer Doug Kelly, who has a wide range of experience in tactical and wireless communications and several other space of space exploration and defense.

Systems Engineer Brett Saylor, with a long history of materials, manufacturing, and repair expertise used in aviation and aerospace projects for NASA, the US Department of Defense, state agencies, and private business.

The full leadership team includes seventeen additional men and women, with several graduate students and undergraduates.

  • Curtis Parker's name may be familiar to you as a personality at WPSX-TV, which has been renamed as Penn State Public Media and WPSX-TV. Mr. Parker is the Manager of Video Communications for the Office of Strategic Communications at Penn State, since 2004.

Penn State

A markerPennsylvania State University -
The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16801, USA
[get directions]

A Pennsylvania Mountain Lion Mascot

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Penn State Nittany Lion sports and school mascot. The school's lunar lander seemed destined to be the Lunar Lion. Mount Nittany is near the school and legends state that mountain lions lived there in the past. Nittany is a Native American term for a single mountain.
Penn State Nittany Lion sports and school mascot. The school's lunar lander seemed destined to be the Lunar Lion.
Penn State Nittany Lion sports and school mascot. The school's lunar lander seemed destined to be the Lunar Lion. | Source
Mount Nittany is near the school and legends state that mountain lions lived there in the past. Nittany is a Native American term for a single mountain.
Mount Nittany is near the school and legends state that mountain lions lived there in the past. Nittany is a Native American term for a single mountain. | Source

Location Reference Map

show route and directions
A markerPenn State University -
The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16801, USA
[get directions]

B markerLancaster PA -
Lancaster, PA, USA
[get directions]

C markerPittsburg PA -
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
[get directions]

D markerMount Nittany -
Mount Nittany, College, PA 16827, USA
[get directions]

© 2014 Patty Inglish

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Comments 21 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Go youth go! This is exciting, thank you for sharing it in such a great fashion.


Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Fascinating. You dig up such interesting information. :)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@Ericdierker - I agree! So much excitement is coming our way and I am, happy for the youth who are pioneering it.

@PaulaAtwell - Thanks! I am intrigued by the expanding space exploration plans of many countries and companies and what the results will be. And I want my own tricorder.


Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

To boldly go where no man has gone before. . .


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

That's right! - and Cleveland's NASA installation might do that very soon with their teleportation research.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

This is a fascinating story, going on outside the main media stream of noise. How interesting and yes, as you say, something positive and to be pround of.


Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Teleporting, now that would be cool!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@mckbirdbks - Hi there! I'll pass on as much of this type of information as I can find and I am glad you find it as interesting as I do.

@Paula Atwell - It would be cool, wouldn't it? It's an exciting time.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 2 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Teleportation using your phone would be cool! No more cars!


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Although I live in Pennsylvania, this is the first I've heard of the Penn State Lunar Lion team. What an exciting project! I wish them well. I think such efforts are the future of space flight in this country.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi Patty. I knew about the Civil Air Patrol, but did not realize they are so involved in space programs. This is a very interesting and informative hub. I enjoyed reading it.


Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

This is not of my general interest, but I was captured by the content and research. I want to know more. An interesting and captivating article.


goatfury profile image

goatfury 2 years ago from Richmond, VA

It's fantastic to see all the new ways that were previously inconceivable (like SpaceX, for example) to get humans back into space. I think more challenges like this one are in order. It's about time!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@someonewhoknows - Teleportation by phone - Wow! That would be convenient - and a quick way of "hanging up" on someone face-to-face that is annoying -- POOF - gone.

@RonElFran - I think they do not receive publicity from the large media outlets. I love Pennsylvania, by the way.

@Phyllis Doyle - It is amazing as you say, isn't it? I am just learning about all the dozens of programs CAP has going all at once.

@Colleen Swan - I am happy that you came by to visit here! Lunar Lion is something I'll be watching closely. Another space project I've heard about is the building of nervous systems into rockets and that reminds me of Anne McCaffrey's "The Ship Who Sang" series of novels.

@goatfury - You probably know that the Chinese are building a space station and a private company in USA has mock-ups of two sizes of space stations for commercial use. I have strange visions of shopping malls in space, but that concept was visited somewhat on TV's "Sliders" series. So much is happening!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@someonewhoknows - Teleportation by phone - Wow! That would be convenient - and a quick way of "hanging up" on someone face-to-face that is annoying -- POOF - gone.

@RonElFran - I think they do not receive publicity from the large media outlets. I love Pennsylvania, by the way.

@Phyllis Doyle - It is amazing as you say, isn't it? I am just learning about all the dozens of programs CAP has going all at once.

@Colleen Swan - I am happy that you came by to visit here! Lunar Lion is something I'll be watching closely. Another space project I've heard about is the building of nervous systems into rockets and that reminds me of Anne McCaffrey's "The Ship Who Sang" series of novels.

@goatfury - You probably know that the Chinese are building a space station and a private company in USA has mock-ups of two sizes of space stations for commercial use. I have strange visions of shopping malls in space, but that concept was visited somewhat on TV's "Sliders" series. So much is happening!


goatfury profile image

goatfury 2 years ago from Richmond, VA

I can't wait to see how it all turns out. Keep writing about it, and I'll do the same!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

OK, I will do that and I'll read yours!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

What inspirational youth! This is an uplifting story. Thanks for researching and sharing the information.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@FlourishAnyway - It's all very exciting and gives these younger people a lot of opportunity for work in the future. The world is going to be dramatically different in just a couple of decades!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States

Living very near the SpaceX test rocket site, I am fascinated with the way that space travel is coming closer to the regular person. I learned a lot from your Hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@VirginiaLynne - Thank you for reading and making comments! Do you see and hear the launches from your home? It seems exciting to live nearby. You're right in the middle of it all!

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