Thompson: "Penn State University’s Lunar Lion Team will make history" "Our commmunity and nation the are proud"

February 11, 2014


"Mr. Speaker, Penn State University’s Lunar Lion Team will make history as the first ever university-led space mission to the Moon.

This group of talented young minds is competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to land a robotic space craft on the Moon in December of 2015.

The Mission, which the Team began preparing in January of 2013, includes a launch onboard a commercial space vehicle, a cruise through space for five days, landing, and a re-launch for a second landing on the Moon. The mission will then be used to send high-resolution images, videos, and other information back to Penn State's mission control center.

To put this in prospective, only the US, Russia, India, Japan and China have ever landed a craft on the moon – and Penn State looks to join this elite club next year.

The Lunar Lion Team includes Penn State science and engineering researchers as well as 80 undergraduate and graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math programs, commonly known as STEM.  

The Team will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in spacecraft design, construction, and operation.

Not only that, Mr. Speaker, the team is learning skills necessary for public-private partnerships through collaboration with NASA and commercial space companies.  

And, like so many of the University’s education and research initiatives, it will also be used to support new innovations and research in the private sector – real world outcomes that will benefit not just students, but America’s competitiveness.  

Penn State's bold mission sets the stage for a resurgence of interest in space exploration among America's youth and demonstrates an exciting practical application of STEM education.

The Team is making great progress toward the mission — prototype development is underway and last month the Team commenced rocket testing.

As a Penn State alumnus and life-long resident of Centre County, I take great pride in the University and its long list of scholastic and volunteer achievements. The Lunar Lion Team adds another stellar achievement to the list.  

The work at the university that has led to the formation and development of this program is another example of innovative and creative leadership on the part of the Penn State Community.  

As one of the only non-profit groups working towards the Lunar X Prize, and the only university, those working on this Lunar Lion project in State College are truly doing something special.

Mr. Speaker, I want to offer my very best to the Penn State Lunar Lion Team as they continue this important work.  Your community and the nation are very proud.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time."