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UND's De Leon Awarded $742,000 NASA Grant for Moon/Mars Exploration

Two UND students work with Space Studies Research Associate Pablo De Leon on the school's new space suit for lunar exploration.  Previously, De Leon created a Martian space suit under another NASA grant.  Photo Credit: UND

After explaining that he "enjoys working with human spaceflight and being able to continue my passion," UND Space Studies Research Associate Pablo De Leon thanked guests at a reception for a $742,000 NASA EPSCOR Grant for "Integrated Strategies for the Human Exploration of the Moon and Mars," Wednesday, December 9, 2009.  The grant includes work on a lunar space suit, continuing space suit work done by De Leon with previous work focused on Mars suits.  NASA Headquarters approved the grant.

Next year, De Leon plans will continue working on the grant by going to the North Dakota Badlands again for testing this lunar prototype suit.  Invitations have also been made to test the suit at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah and in a Canadian Arctic station.  In addition, De Leon plans to use funding from the grant to construct an inflatable habitat and other new space equipment.  University of North Dakota students will definitely be a part of the project, but students throughout the North Dakotan higher education system will have the ability to participate.  "We should be able to fund many students through these three years," said De Leon at the reception about the grant.

Work on the advanced lunar space suit, given the name NDX-2, was done by Argentinian born De Leon, outside contractor Gary L. Harris, and UND students Lynn van Broock, Tyler Jacobson and Emily Chwialkowski.  The North Dakota Space Grant Consortium also continues to fund the project.

De Leon has a company that was a contender in the Ansari X PRIZE and administers classes at UND, which include the involvement of spaceflight simulators replicating the flights of SpaceShipOne and NASA's Space Shuttle.--David Bullock

More information can be found at: www.space.edu


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