Suggested Searches

Frequently Asked Questions

Man-powered rover tackle the HERC course


About the HERC Challenge

Updated January 22, 2024

Is there any bonus this year for not using a chain drive?

No, all bonuses and penalties regarding chain drive systems are removed this year.

Can we get access to some of the previous years deliverables to know the presentation outline and formatting

All deliverables are held confidentially by HERC as the intellectual property of the submitting team.  Writing guidelines are in the handbook, and the HERC Implementation team does not score based on formatting so long as it meets the basic guidelines.

Is it possible for a mentor to also be a student pursuing a PhD at our university or institution?

Teams may have mentors who have graduated and moved on to graduate studies, but mentors have the same restrictions as advisors and can’t perform any of the activities specified in the handbook as “Student” only.

For Task 3, do we need to use our task tool and gloves, or will you provide them?

All materials for Task 3 will be provided – the only design considerations for the team are in quickly and safely being able to exit and re-enter the vehicle for the pilot performing the task.

Can we glue car wheels rubber to our rim?

Scrap rubber from car tires is allowed ONLY if no tread from the original tire is being used as tread for the rover.  This is a very fine line, and a mistake could lead to disqualification, so it is not recommended.

To incorporate on the task tool, may we use a pre-made lantern or shall we make one from scratch?

The light source on the task tool may be a commercially purchased light, but where’s the fun in that?

Can springs be employed as tensioning elements for chains or belts in the transmission system?

Springs are allowed in any subsystem unless they are used as energy storage in the drivetrain (like a wind-up car).

Is it viable to employ interchangeable tips for the task tool? Each of these tips would be specifically designed for individual tasks.

Replaceable tips are allowed for task tools, however, the tip must be just an attachment to the mechanism of the tool.  For example, if the “task tool” is just a pole and each tip is performing the entire task, the tip is then considered the task tool and wouldn’t be allowed to be changed.

Are 3 wheeled rovers allowed?

We have no wheel number requirement; however, any unsafe designs are not allowed.  Safety of your design will be discussed at the Design Review Presentation and Operational Readiness Review Presentation.

Could we purchase the braking system to incorporate in our rover?

Brakes are allowed to be commercially purchased parts.

Can our task tool can have electrical components?

Yes, we love to see electrical components!

Can the NASA HERC logo be used on STEM material or team material like posters, trailers, etc. ?


For the budget, do you expect a detailed budget or just an estimate of how much we are going to use in each area?

The budget section should become more robust as the challenge year commences.  For the proposal we recognize the budget will be an estimate, but as we move on to DRR and ORR the budget should be much more accurate and detailed.

Is there a chance to see pictures of the final props used for the tasks before the Challenge?

There is no guarantee on this, but an effort will be made to provide pictures as the tasks are completed.

Can we have two teacher advisors?

Only one “Advisor” is allowed, but any other faculty members may be “Mentors”.

Are we allowed to share fundraising plans with other campus groups participating in other NASA challenges?

You are allowed and encouraged to collaborate with other NASA Artemis Student Challenge teams at your school!

Are fundraising & STEM Engagements events allowed to be combined (like tickets for an interactive STEM fair)?


Can the safety officer be a student within our institution but not an active member of the team?

The safety officer, by definition, is a member of the team.  Not every team member is required to perform every type of task (design, simulation, fabrication, etc.), but all team members must actively contribute to the success of the rover.  Safety is the most important part of any mission.

Could you explain in detail how our proposals will be graded? Could we see the rubric you use if you have one?

Proposals will be graded in several areas which are those specified in the handbook.  The rubric we use won’t be shared, but every section listed in the handbook will need to be covered.

Can we have more detail about what is expected or some examples / guidelines for each award?

Awards, outside of the overall awards, are awarded at the discretion of the HERC implementation team and/or anybody they have recruited to judge the merits of such an award.  Any guidelines or requirements are internal documents.

The handbook said that every single member had to help build the rover, but what if we divided the work between members into different groups like fundraising or STEM engagement vs. designing or building the rover?

The purpose of this statement is such that team members aren’t given a task like “social media lead” and not allowed to participate in the design challenge they signed up for.  All participants should be allowed to participate in whichever part of the design process they feel drawn to.  During reviews we do not want to see, for example, the female pilot being recruited and having the only job of running social media.  All students should be contributing to the design in whichever way they choose.

Is it fine if some people only indirectly contribute to building the rover, like if someone only helped finance the project but didn’t actually build the rover, is that fine?

Spending money is not “indirectly contributing” to the design and construction of the rover, it is a donation.  No team members are allowed to be on the team solely because they have donated money.

Can you be more specific with the description of the five tasks?

Task 1: Batteries are allowed.  The mockup instrument panel will be shrouded to protect the photosensor from sunlight, but the team will not be in darkness while performing the task.

Task 2: Remember that the panels are oriented at a 45-degree angle!  Using gas to blow the regolith off is possible but think about the physics involved with blowing sand/dust uphill.  The panels will only need to be cleaned of enough regolith to light the indicator lamp, a full clean isn’t necessary.

Task 3: No tool is required for the teams.  Everything is provided at the task site, including the screwdriver.

Task 4: Approaching the task you will see a positive and negative alligator-clamp hanging from the structure.  This is to simulate that one side of the connection has already been made.  Your task is to attach each alligator-clamp to a post, polarity doesn’t matter.  Two posts, two clamps, in any order.

Task 5: To help with final designs the material of the samples will all be made from 2” ID S40 PVC pipe. You can find the outer diameter easily online.  Two samples are vertically recessed into holes, and two samples are attached to the wall with a friction clamp (low force).  No additional weight beyond the PVC pipe and internal endcaps will be added.

About Logistics

Are there hotels near by that offer group rates?

Yes; the following hotels typically provide group rates for HERC participants.

Drury Inn & Suites Huntsville at the Space & Rocket Center
93 Wynn Drive NW
Huntsville, AL 35805
Telephone: (256) 430-9888

Group rate of $159 per night; April 17-21, 2024

Booking Link:

Additional Information:

  • Free Hot Breakfast – Start every day with make-your-own Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, KELSO+BROS® coffee and more.  Free hot breakfast is served daily from 6–9:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7–10 a.m. on weekends.
  • Free 5:30 Kickback®* – Join us from 5:30–7 p.m. every evening to enjoy free hot food and cold beverages at our 5:30 Kickback®.  We feature a rotating menu of hot food, beer, wine, mixed drinks and soft drinks.
  • Free Wi-Fi Throughout the Hotel – Get the score, check your social networks or email family members from anywhere in the hotel – for free!
  • On-Site Facilities – Take advantage of the business center, fitness center or pool while you’re away from home.  Print your boarding pass, finish a presentation or check e-mail in our business centers.

*Availability of the above-listed amenities is subject to local, state, and federal restrictions and mandates as they relate to COVID-19 or the novel Coronavirus.  To receive an updated list of what is currently available at the Hotel, please contact the Hotel directly.

Please make your reservations by Saturday, March 16, 2024 to receive your group rate.  Reservations made after this date will be subject to prevailing rate and availability.   Reservations may also be made by calling 1-800-325-0720 and refer to your group number 10066925.

Holiday Inn Express Huntsville – Space Center

5101 Governors House Drive SW
Huntsville, AL 35805
Telephone: (256) 919-5318

Group rate of $134 per night; April 17-21, 2024

Request Group Name: NASA Rover Challenge

Please make your reservations by April 1, 2024 to receive your group rate.

Other Huntsville Area Hotels

What is the nearest airport?

Huntsville International Airport

What is the shipping and facility address?

All rovers can be shipped to:
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Attn: Warehouse Manager
One Tranquility Drive
Huntsville, AL 35805

Please note that the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will not receive any rovers that do not have pre-paid return shipping documents with their rover shipment. Also, all rovers must be put in a crate by the team for return-shipping pick-up.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center does not provide a facility, tools, or equipment for assembling or dissembling rovers.

After the event, the vehicle should be readied for return shipment on Monday.