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For release: 01/07/03
Release #: 03-003

Great Moonbuggy Race to celebrate 10th anniversary in April

The registration deadline is Feb. 3. for NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race. The 10th annual competition will be at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala, April 11-12. The Marshall Center sponsors the event, inspired by development some 30 years ago of the compact, lightweight lunar rover. High school and college Moonbuggy teams must design, build and race a human-powered vehicle — against the clock — over a lunar-like obstacle course.

Hundreds of high school and college students from throughout the United States will meet the challenge to “race like they’re on the Moon” in NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race April 11-12, 2003, conducted annually at the nearby U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. 

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville sponsors the event as one way to motivate the next generation of engineers and scientists. This will mark the 10th year for student teams to tackle designing, building and racing a human-powered vehicles over a lunar-like obstacle course.

The registration deadline for the competition is Feb. 3, 2003. High school teams will race Friday, April 11, and college teams will take to the course Saturday, April 12.

The Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by development some 30 years ago of the lunar roving vehicle, a program managed by engineers at the Marshall Center. That team’s challenge was to design a compact, lightweight “all-terrain vehicle” that could be transported to the Moon in the relatively small Apollo spacecraft. They met the challenge:  Astronauts used separate lunar rovers on the final three Moon missions — Apollo 15, 16 and17, to travel 52.51 miles (84.5 kilometers), gather 620.6 pounds (281.5 kilograms) of rock and soil samples and return them to Earth.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since our first Great Moonbuggy Race — and more than 30 years since our astronauts took their first moonbuggy ride on July 31, 1971,” said Durlean Bradford, Moonbuggy Race coordinator in the education department at the Marshall Center. “We expect a lot of returning schools for this anniversary race — maybe the biggest field of competitors ever. We encourage teams to register early and get started today on their moonbuggy.”

In 2002, 33 college teams from 18 states and 27 high school teams representing nine states and Puerto Rico vied for the top three places in each division. A university from Colombia participated as an exhibition team.

Students face a variety of real-world engineering problems while designing and building their moonbuggies. The challenge continues when a male and a female race each vehicle over a half-mile course of simulated lunar terrain, encountering man-made craters, rocks, ridges and soft soil.

Prizes are awarded not only for the fastest vehicles, but also to the team whose design represents the best technical approach to solve the engineering problem of navigating the simulated lunar surface.

“This is fun, but it’s also downright hard work for the teams,” Bradford said. “They put in countless hours to come up with their design, figure out what works, build the moonbuggy and then race it. Their math, science, engineering, design and teamwork skills are all put to the test.”

For more information on how to participate in the Great Moonbuggy Race, contact Bradford at (256) 544-5920 or by e-mail:

General information about the event may be found on the Web site:

For more information:
News release
2002 college winner photos
2002 high school winner photos

Jerry Berg
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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