A Quick Review of 2013
The year 2013 saw the completion of many key milestones for the Lunar Lion Team, namely the acquisition of pencil thrusters from NASA JSC, the design and implementation of a testing regimen for those thrusters, and the down payment of a launch vehicle.
The thrusters provided by NASA were obtained through a Space Act Agreement signed between NASA JSC and Penn State University. The agreement was the first of its kind in Penn State's history and gave students on the Lunar Lion team the opportunity to work directly on industry hardware. Prior to obtaining the thrusters, students drafted a testing plan, determined the parts the needed to be ordered, and actively talked with companies and officials at The University to ensure a safe testing procedure. Their efforts won the approval of the University's Environmental Health and Safety and technicians at the Applied Research Lab and paved the way for tests that are crucial to the development of the team's first prototype. During their fall semester, the yearlong efforts of the students culminated in the team's first successful hot-fire of the pencil thrusters.
In fall, the team also made a down payment on a launch vehicle by signing a contract with Phoenicia llc. The full story can be read here: < http://lunarlion.psu.edu/press-release-roaring-to-the-moon-lunar-lion-pays-launch-reservation-fee/>
The total launch cost for this mission is expected to cost under $10 million, a fraction of what it would cost to launch a spacecraft similar to the team's own lander. This agreement puts the team on track to launch by the GLXP's end of 2015 deadline.
With these major milestones reached, 2014 will be an exciting year for the Lunar Lion Team. Continued testing of the pencil thrusters will expand the team's capabilities and provide the technical prowess to design, construct, and test a hopping craft in the Mojabe Desert in summer. Some students will also be using the skills they picked up at Lunar Lion at internships and come back as stronger engineers. 2013 saw the team expand, and the new people that joined brought more energy and dedication to the project. If the energy and enthusiasm of the team at the end of 2013 was any indication, 2014 will be a great year.
Follow the Lunar Lion Team on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @LunarLionPSU for all updates throughout the coming year.
Have a Happy New Year!