The team from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., powered its way to victory Saturday in the college division of NASA’s 13th annual Great Moonbuggy Race.

The team finished ahead of 15 other college and university teams from across the country and Puerto Rico racing their original moonbuggy designs at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by the original lunar rover engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville whose creation rumbled across the moon during the last three Apollo missions in the early 1970s. The NASA engineers had to design and build a compact, light, flexible and durable vehicle to carry astronauts on the lunar surface.

Students faced some of the same challenges while preparing for their race across a simulated lunar surface. The hands-on experience may inspire them to pursue careers in math, science and engineering and could lead them to be participants in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration of returning to the moon, reaching Mars and destinations beyond.

The Pittsburg State University team finished the course in 3 minutes, 49 seconds. The University of Evansville moonbuggy team from Evansville, Ind., finished second, followed by the University of Tennessee from Knoxville, and the University of Puerto Rico from Humacao tied for third.

Pittsburg State University was awarded a trophy depicting the original lunar rover vehicle. The team also won a free trip to a space shuttle launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and a cash award from race sponsor Northrop Grumman Corp. The second- and third-place teams were given plaques honoring their achievement. Members of all three teams received medallions.

The award for “Best Engineering Design” in the college division went to the team from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, who also won for the “Most Unique Design.” Youngstown State University from Youngstown, Ohio earned the “Pits Crew” award for ingenuity and persistence in overcoming hardware problems during the race. The “Most Improved” award went to the University of Tennessee team and the “Safety System” award went to Tennessee Technological University from Cookeville.

Other college racers included Alabama A&M University in Huntsville; Southern Illinois University in Carbondale; Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Ind.; Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y.; Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.; and Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn.

In the high school division race Friday, the Huntsville Center for Technology team from Huntsville, Ala., outraced 17 teams with a time of 4 minutes, 6 seconds. Erie High School in Erie, Kan., placed second and Pana Senior High School of Pana, Ill., finished third.

The first Great Moonbuggy Race was run in 1994 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing. Eight college teams participated that first year. In 1996, the race was expanded to include high school teams.

Many volunteers from both the Marshall Space Flight Center and the space industry ensure the success of the event. The Northrop Grumman Corp. sponsored this year’s Great Moonbuggy Race. Other contributors include the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); ATK Thiokol; CBS affiliate WHNT Channel 19 of Huntsville; Jacobs/Sverdrup; Morgan Research Corp.; Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC); the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the System Safety Society Inc.; and the United Space Alliance, LLC.

For photos of the top-finishing teams and complete results, visit the Marshall Newsroom at:

For more event details, race rules, and information on the course, visit: