NE@The Great Moonbuggy Race

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NE@The Great Moonbuggy Race
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NE @The Great Moonbuggy Race 08

Featuring: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

NASA EDGE, along with 60 plus high school and college teams, braved the elements and the obstacles for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Annual Great Moonbuggy Race.

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Great Moonbuggy Race (otherwise known as engineering-palooza) took on its annual epic proportion as the rain and cold descended upon Huntsville, AL. Over 60 teams from high schools and colleges from across the country and around the world accepted the challenge with groundbreaking style and design. Chris and Jacky take an in depth look at the race while Blair examines track's the lunar obstacles.

CHRIS: Welcome to NASA Edge.

JACKY: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

CHRIS: We're here at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

JACKY: For the 15th annual Great Moon Buggy Race.

CHRIS: We have over 60 teams, high schools and colleges, competing in this great race, from twenty states and Puerto Rico, Canada, India and Germany.

JACKY: These teams will have to participate in a 7 tenth of a mile obstacle course.

CHRIS: There are seventeen challenging obstacles; in fact, there are 20 tons of gravel, 5 tons of sand, and about 175 bales of hay for safety.

JACKY: Sounds challenging.

CHRIS: In fact, I think Blair; I hope he's not getting into trouble, he's in the pit area right now, checking up on the technologies of the moon buggies and catching up with the teams. Hey Blair, what's going on?

BLAIR: Thanks Chris and Jacky. I'm going to run through the pits real quick, where you see a hot bed of engineering activity. I'm going to see if I can talk to some of the potential competitors to see what they can tell us about their moon buggies. Let's go check things out.

BLAIR: We're here with Ryan from the winning team two years running. Is that correct?

RYAN: Two years, yes sir.

BLAIR: Just a couple of quick questions. As you prepare for a race of this magnitude, what are the concerns you have going in to keep up that winning tradition?

RYAN: A lot of exercise, a lot of focus, and make sure our buggy is good and strong.

BLAIR: So you're a driver?

RYAN: Yes, sir. This is actually my first year in it. I've been practicing before Christmas.

BLAIR: The design process, do you do all of this first with drawings and diagrams?

RYAN: Yes, we designed it all in CAD and sketching before we designed this. It was very useful to use a computer program to design because you can see your limitation to the four-foot box.

BLAIR: One of the great things about the Moon Buggy Race is the international teams that show up. I'm here with Mr. Cruz, representing the Puerto Rico team.

MR. CRUZ: Yes.

BLAIR: This is your first time competing, correct?

MR. CRUZ: Yes, sir. This is our first time. We have competitions in Puerto Rico and we came out ahead of everybody else.

BLAIR: We're here with Rishma of the German team. Could you take me through the moon buggy and explain some of its features for us?

RISHMA: Okay. Here's our camera.

BLAIR: Oh, that's real. Is it fully functional?


BLAIR: You can take pictures while you're racing?

RISHMA: With the telemetry, it sends a frequency that you can see there. You can see every time where the moon buggy is.

BLAIR: Great.

RISHMA: It's like a satellite.

BLAIR: Right. You have a coach or a teacher or an advisor, correct?

RYAN: Yes.

BLAIR: How does he motivate you to get you into that mental, competitive state to simulate the Moon Buggy Race? Does he tell you you're running out of oxygen or something like that to get you to go faster? Hey, you're running out of air. You only have a limited time to get back to the Lunar Hab?

RYAN: He'll use the other team members. He'll say he ran faster, you've got to beat him and stuff like that.

MR. CRUZ: Sometime we'd be at the welding shop till midnight to finish all this work.

BLAIR: But now it's paid off.

MR. CRUZ: It's paid off. It's race day and we're ready to go.

BLAIR: As you can see, it's going to be a very exciting race day. There's lots of technology, lots of ideas being presented from the racetrack today. So, let me know how things are going and I'll see you from the obstacles.

CHRIS: We're in the assembly area behind the start/finish line. This is where all the pre-race checks happen. In fact, right behind us we have a team that has a collapsed moon buggy. That collapsed moon buggy has to be 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet. Then, the team has to pick up their collapsed moon buggy and carry it 20 feet across the pink line.

JACKY: That's not timed, right?

CHRIS: That's not timed. Correct. Once they get to the final area, they have to unfold their buggy and that's timed. They unfold their buggy. They put all their stuff in, tighten everything up, get in their seats, put their seat belts on. That's part of their total time for the race.


CHRIS: After they assemble it, they have to make sure the width of that moon buggy is not wider than 4 feet and we have to make sure there's a minimum 15-inch clearance.

JACKY: Wow. Well, let's go with Blair and see what he sees out on the obstacle course.

BLAIR: Wow. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's affectionately known as NASA Edge. The reason we call it that is if you don't hit that corner right, you get an inside and outside look at your moon buggy.

BLAIR: Oh! Oh, oh! Wow!


[girl screaming]

BLAIR: As you can see, we're under harsh elements here. That's bad for us but it's even worse for the competitors. Especially as they greet one of our other named obstacles, this is Keyke's Korner, named after Keyke from Marshall. Who is really known not for be ambidextrous but being known for the fact that she can spell it. Apparently she is a tremendous speller. So, hats off to Keyke and all the competitors that can navigate this incredible, u-shaped turn.

BLAIR: Oh, oh, oh! U being a vowel that Keyke employs in all her proper spellings.

BLAIR: They are now approaching one of the more daunting obstacles here at the Moon Buggy Race, the Shackleton Rim.

BLAIR: Not many competitors can handle it. That's right, folks. That is the Shackleton Rim. Okay, this is the last of the named obstacles, the San Antonio Sand Trap. Essentially, one of the strangest shifts in material in the race so far. It has stopped a lot of teams but the front-runner today is coming down the final stretch. They're handling every obstacle quite well. Here we are. How will they do? And they handle it masterfully!

BLAIR & JACKY: Whoa! Oh!

[crowd cheering]

CHRIS: The 15th annual Great Moon Buggy Race has come to a close.

JACKY: I hope you had a great time seeing the high school students go through the obstacles. They worked really hard and it paid off today.

CHRIS: Congratulations to all the participants and to the winners of this year's competition.

ERIE HIGH TEAMMATE: We want to thank everybody back home that supported us, all the administration, the school board, Power Flying, for cutting stuff out for us. And we want to thank Tail Wind Cyclists in Pittsburgh for all the bicycle parts they helped us with.

CHRIS: I think we have a sponsor right here.

ERIE HIGH TEAMMATE: And especially our teacher, who puts in a lot of hours after school and gives up a lot of his free time for us. He's very dedicated to what we do here.

BLAIR: Hey, are you guys ready to do the close?

JACKY: Where have you been?

CHRIS: We're almost done.

BLAIR: Oh, I was over at the Shackleton Crater building regolith castles with some of the teams. It was great.

CHRIS: Regolith snow angels?

BLAIR: The surface too uneven, but the castles, no problem.

CHRIS: Hey Jacky, how about we enter as a team next year?

JACKY: Sounds like fun.

CHRIS: As a special entry.

JACKY: Okay.

BLAIR: And I'll coach. Just like I did last year. I'll coach.

BLAIR: Okay Brandon, that's right. Those legs have got to burn more than that buddy if you're going to be a winner. I see a loser in an astronaut suit right now. I'm not seeing what I need to see.

BLAIR: I'd be 2 and 0.

CHRIS: We'll find somebody else.

JACKY: Okay.

CHRIS: Hey, you're watching NASA Edge.

JACKY: An inside and outside look…

BLAIR: At all things NASA. From a coaching prospective, why would you even doubt me as a coach?

CHRIS: We'll see you next year.


BLAIR: I had a great track record. My track record was impeccable.

JACKY: An inside and outside…

BLAIR: Hey, it's an inside and outside look at all things NASA.

CHRIS: Those kids just think you're crazy.

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