High school and college students work on human-powered machines for

Students from across the United States and as far away as Puerto Rico and
South America will come to Huntsville, Ala., for the 9th annual Great
Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, April 12-13.

Seventy-seven teams — representing high schools and colleges from 21
states, Puerto Rico and Colombia – will race human powered vehicles over a
lunar-like terrain. But the competition requires more than physical
endurance because students must use a wide range of skills as a team to
design, engineer and build their vehicle.

The Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by development some 30 years ago of the
lunar roving vehicle (LRV), a program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville. The LRV team had to design a compact,
lightweight “all-terrain vehicle” that could be transported to the Moon in
the small Apollo spacecraft. The Moonbuggy race challenges students to
design and build a human-powered vehicle and in the process overcome
engineering problems similar to those faced by the original Marshall Center
lunar rover team.

For instance, the students must design a vehicle that occupies a space no
more than 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet before it is assembled prior to the
race. During the race, two team members — one male and one female – power
and drive each vehicle over a half-mile obstacle course of simulated
moonscape terrain.

Winners in each category – high school and college – are determined by the
fastest vehicle assembly time, plus time through the course. An additional
prize is awarded to the team with the best technical approach to solving the
engineering problem of navigating the lunar surface.

“This is the greatest participation we’ve ever had for the races,” said Jim
Pruitt manager of the education programs department at the Marshall Center.
“We have teams that have participated for several years and we have new
teams that will be here for the first time. We expect to see some innovative
designs and fantastic competition.”

The annual event is sponsored by several Huntsville organizations: the
Marshall Center, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the American Institute of
Aeronautics and Astronautics Alabama-Mississippi Section, the Aerospace
Development Center of Alabama, Sci-Quest North Alabama Science Center and
television station WAFF.

Event details, a full listing of the competing teams, race rules,
information on the course and photos from previous competitions can be found
at the Great Moonbuggy Race Web site at:


Note to Editors: You have received this news release because a high
school, technical school, college or university from your area has
registered to compete in the 9th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race. In some
instances there may be multiple entries from your area. To get the name of
the contact at your area school for pre-race coverage e-mail:
jerry.berg@msfc.nasa.gov or judy.pettus@msfc.nasa.gov