The Daily Item
UNIVERSITY PARK — Rocket engines will soon be blazing away in a series of tests at Penn State’s University Park campus, enabling students to gain a better understanding of rocket performance and share some of their knowledge with NASA, according to an agreement reached between the University’s Applied Research Laboratory and NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
The space center will provide bipropellant rockets — liquid methane/liquid methane control engines — that it developed to the ARL’s Space Systems Initiative for testing and characterization. The first of these engines has already arrived.
According to Michael V. Paul, who heads the Space Systems Initiative, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the safe design, construction and operation of high pressure cryogenic systems and rocket engines.
Paul also directs the Penn State Lunar Lion team, part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which plans to send a vehicle to the moon, take off from the lunar surface, and land again some distance away.
The rocket engines will be tested in University facilities built for testing high-energy systems for the Navy. The engines burn liquefied oxygen and various hydrocarbons and are considered to be environmentally “green” because they are non-toxic and are safer to use than traditional rocket engine fuels.