Moonbuggy Race Opens For Registration
November 7, 2012

NASA’s 20th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race Opens For Registration

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

NASA has opened up registration for the 20th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race, kick-starting the contest for high school, college and university students from around the world.

The two-decade old competition will take place on April 26 - 27 next year at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

NASA originally created the event to help with classroom learning, provide young thinkers and builders with real-world engineering experience, and inspire them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's our goal to keep the wheels turning," Tammy Rowan, manager of the Academic Affairs Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, said in a statement. "The ingenuity and enthusiasm we see among racers begins in the classroom. That first spark of interest -- whether it's in basic chemistry or astronomy or the history of spaceflight -- starts the wheels turning."

Rowan said the Great Moonbuggy Race helps to turn interest into passion, and dreams into a lifelong pursuit of new answers and horizons.

International registration for the race closes on January 7, while U.S. teams have until February 4 to register.

NASA said that high schools, colleges and universities may register with up to two teams and two vehicles.

The Great Moonbuggy Race was created during the 1993 to 1994 school year, and it had just eight teams participating. NASA added the high school division to the race in 1996.

During the race, teams compete to post the fastest vehicle assembly and race times in their divisions while incurring the fewest penalties. Prizes are awarded to those teams that finish with the lowest final times.

The course is comprised of a winding half-mile of gravel embankments, sand pits and obstacles that mimic the harsh surface of the moon.

The creators of the race drew their inspiration for it from the conditions faced by the Apollo-era Lunar Roving Vehicles.

NASA said student moonbuggies face some of the same design challenges it faced to deliver rovers during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions.

During the most recent race, over 70 teams competed, with the top team earning a completion time of three minutes and 20 seconds.

Over 5,000 students from around the world have participated in the races so far, including those from Canada, India, Italy, Romania, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

NASA said over 350,000 people watched live and archived coverage of the spring 2012 race on NASA TV and on UStream.