Students Race to the Future in NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race

Mar 16, 2006

It's not common knowledge, but high school and college students across the country know it is quite possible to ride across the surface of the moon without leaving Earth.

Fifty-eight high school and college student teams are putting the finishing touches on designs of their very own lunar vehicles. Teams from the United States and Puerto Rico are competing in NASA's 13th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. The event, which is open to the media and public, runs April 7-8 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The race was inspired by the lunar rover vehicles astronauts drove on the moon during three Apollo missions. Students will race their human-powered vehicles in time trials across a simulated moon surface.

Teams have spent countless hours working on their designs. They had to find parts, manufacture and fine-tune their vehicles to ensure they survive the rough terrain of the race's half-mile obstacle course. Along the way, students learned valuable lessons about teamwork, engineering and overcoming challenges to reach goals.

"The competition draws the next generation of scientists and engineers," said Jim Ellis, manager of the Academic Affairs Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. "The lessons they learn here can be carried on into their future studies and eventually to their careers. These students may become our next explorers, carrying out the Vision for Space Exploration to return to the moon and travel to Mars," he added.

Moonbuggies don't race side-by-side, but against the clock. Awards are given to the top three teams in both high school and college categories that complete the course with the best times. Awards are also presented for unique; most improved and best overall designs. There's also a new category this year, an award for the team that designed its moonbuggy with safety in mind.

The first Great Moonbuggy Race was in 1994. It commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Eight college teams participated the first year, and in 1996 the race was expanded to include high school teams.

Volunteers from both Marshall and the space industry help ensure the success of the event. The Northrop Grumman Corp. sponsors this year's race. Other contributors include the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; ATK Thiokol; CBS affiliate WHNT Channel 19 of Huntsville; Jacobs/Sverdrup; Morgan Research Corp.; SAIC; the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the System Safety Society Inc.; and the United Space Alliance, LLC.

For event details, race rules, information about the course and photos from previous competitions on the Web, visit: moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov

Source: NASA

Explore further: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Blockbuster' science images

Nov 21, 2014

At this point, the blockbuster movie Interstellar has created such a stir that one would almost have to be inside a black hole not to know about it. And while the science fiction thriller may have taken some ...

Philae probing comet with hours left on battery

Nov 14, 2014

Europe's probe Philae was busily conducting experiments on a comet 510 million kilometres (320 million miles) from Earth with just hours of onboard battery life left, ground control reported of signals received ...

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.