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For release: 02-24-03
Release #: 03-032

High school, college teams get ready to roll in 10th Annual ‘Great Moonbuggy Race’ April 11-12 

Sixty-eight high school and college teams are getting ready to roll in NASA's 10th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race April 11-12 in Huntsville, Ala. The competition requires quickness and physical endurance, plus a wide range of skills to design, engineer and build a moonbuggy.

Imagine designing and building a human-powered vehicle for two that fits in a space about the size of a medium desk or entertainment center. Your vehicle needs to be quickly assembled, easy to maneuver, and capable of surviving shocks from rugged terrain. Not to mention… fast!

Balancing those requirements makes for a unique challenge and that’s the assignment facing 68 student teams now getting ready for NASA’s 10th annual “Great Moonbuggy Race.” The teams — representing high schools and colleges from 19 states and Puerto Rico — will race their moonbuggies over lunar-like terrain at the center.

The event, set for April 11 -12 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., will feature high school teams competing on the 11th and college teams on the 12th.

Winners in the separate divisions are determined by 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. The competition requires more than quickness and physical endurance because students must use a wide range of skills to design, engineer and build their moonbuggy.

The obstacles can be very daunting, but a well-designed moonbuggy and top-notch teamwork make the difference. Action photos of the 2002 high school and college winners conquering the course are available at:


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

For instance, the vehicle must occupy a space no more than 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet before assembly — timed with a stopwatch —   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.

“We have an excellent field of teams for this year’s races,” said Durlean Bradford, Great Moonbuggy Race coordinator in the education department at the Marshall Center. “We’re glad to see so many schools coming back, year after year, building on their experience. Plus several new teams have signed up for the first time. So, we’re looking forward to an exciting event.”

The annual event is sponsored by the Marshall Center, U.S. Space & Rocket Center, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Alabama-Mississippi Section, Aerospace Development Center of Alabama, Morgan Research Corporation and television station WHNT, all of Huntsville.

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 10th 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:

For more information:
News release
2002 High school winner photos
2002 College winner photos

Jerry Berg
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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