Press Release

NASA Announces Winners of 17th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

By SpaceRef Editor
April 11, 2010
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NASA has announced the victors in the 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.

Finishing in second place this year in the high school division was Fajardo Vocational High School of Humacao, Puerto Rico, which entered the competition for the first time in 2009. Third place in the high school division yielded a tie: race newcomer Jupiter High School of Jupiter, Fla., matched perennial top-three winner Huntsville Center for Technology Team 1 of Huntsville, Ala. — who also tied last year for the top high school trophy.

The University of Utah from Salt Lake City won second place in the college division, boosting them onto the trophy platform for the first time since they debuted in the race in 2007; and the Rhode Island School of Design from Providence, R.I., took home third place in their first race appearance — despite having no engineers on their team (all team members are industrial design students).

Race organizers presented both first-place winners with trophies depicting NASA’s original lunar rover. NASA also gave plaques and certificates to every team that competed.

The first-place high school team also received $500 and a week at Space Camp, courtesy of race sponsors ATK Aerospace Systems of Huntsville. ATK awarded the second- and third-place high school teams $250 each. Race sponsor Lockheed Martin Corp. of Huntsville also presented the winning college team with $5,700 in cash.

Individuals on the winning teams also received commemorative medals and other prizes. (For a complete list of additional awards for design, safety, innovation and spirit, see below.)

“Each year, NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race clearly demonstrates the popularity, worldwide reach and intrinsic value of the agency’s education initiatives,” said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Marshall Center’s Academic Affairs Office, which organizes the race. “It’s our goal to augment and enrich the classroom experience, and inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers to carry on NASA’s mission of discovery throughout our solar system and deliver untold benefits back home on Earth.”

The moonbuggy race is inspired by the original lunar rover, first piloted across the moon’s surface in the early 1970s during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions. The first race, held in 1994, commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. At the time, the event was only open to college teams, and eight participated. Two years later, the event was expanded to include high school teams.

NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race is hosted each year by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Major corporate sponsorship is provided by Lockheed Martin Corp., The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corp., and Jacobs Engineering ESTS Group, all of Huntsville

For photos of winning teams, visit:

For more information about the race, visit:

For information about other NASA education programs, visit:

NASA’s 17th annual Great Moonbuggy Race ADDITIONAL AWARDS AND PRIZES

Best Moonbuggy Design (for solving engineering problems associated with lunar travel)
o Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School Team 2, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico
o University of Alabama in Huntsville, Ala.

Featherweight Award
o Jupiter High School, Jupiter, Fla.
o University of Puerto Rico in Humacao, Puerto Rico

Best Performance by an International Team
o Fajardo Vocational High School, Humacao, Puerto Rico
o Krishna Engineering College, Ghaziabad, India

NASA Systems Safety Award (for the safest approach to building, testing and racing)
o Tudor Viamu National High School of Computer Science Team 2, Bucharest, Romania
o University of Alabama in Huntsville, Ala.

Pits Crew Award for ingenuity and persistence in overcoming problems during the race
o Carlisle County High School, Bardwell, Ky.
o C.T. Institute of Engineering, Management & Technology, Jalandhar, India

Crash and Burn Award (for the team that endures the most spectacular vehicle breakdown)
o Erie High School Team 2, Erie, Kan.

Best Team Spirit (for overall team energy, enthusiasm and camaraderie)
o Pana High School, Pana, Ill.
o Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

Rookie Award (for fastest course completion by a new race team)
o Jupiter High School, Jupiter, Fla.
o Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I.

Most Improved Award (for the most dramatically improved engineering and performance)
o Fairhope High School Team 1, Fairhope, Ala.
o Cameron University, Lawton, Okla.

SpaceRef staff editor.