Puerto Rico and Germany Sport Fastest Buggies in NASA's 17th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race
Through flips and spills over a simulated moon surface, two veteran contenders finally found their time to shine in NASA’s 17th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. The team representing the International Space Education Institute of Leipzig, Germany, won the high school division; and racers from the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao took first place in the college division.
The teams bested more than 70 teams from 18 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, India and Romania. More than 600 drivers, engineers and mechanics -- all students -- gathered with their team advisors and cheering sections to take part in the matchup of wits and wheels at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center April 9-10 in Huntsville, Ala.
The race is organized by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. It challenges students to design, build and race lightweight, human-powered buggies that tackle many of the same engineering challenges dealt with by Apollo-era lunar rover developers at the Marshall Center in the late 1960s.
The International Space Education Institute, known among moonbuggy racers as "Team Germany," has been a prominent contender in the competition since they debuted in 2007 as the German Space Education Institute. Their team this year included two Russian students, reflecting the school's expanded international scope.
The University of Puerto Rico in Humacao -- the only school in the world to enter a moonbuggy in every race since the event was founded in 1994 -- won the second-place prize in 2009, and finally took home first place in this, their 17th appearance.
The winning teams posted the fastest vehicle assembly and race times in their divisions and received the fewest on-course penalties. The International Space Education Institute finished the roughly half-mile course -- twisting curves, treacherous gravel pits and other obstacles simulating lunar surface conditions -- in just 3 minutes 37 seconds. The University of Puerto Rico at Humacao posted a time of 4 minutes 18 seconds.
Angela Storey, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.