Takes Prize From Returning Champions From Huntsville
Students from Erie High School in Erie, KS are over the moon
today... literally. Students on Erie High Team II braved pouring
rain and fierce competition from around the world to win the high
school division of NASA's 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race at the
US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.
Finishing the simulated lunar race course with the fastest time
-- 3 minutes and 17 seconds -- the winning team's original
moonbuggy design overcame 21 other high school teams from across
the United States and as far away as Germany.
Among those toppled by the Erie team were the 2007 high school
moonbuggy champions of Huntsville Institute of Technology, which
fielded two teams this year. Huntsville Institute Team II finished
in second place this year; Team I took third place.
NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by the original lunar
rover designed by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville. A hardy, lightweight exploration vehicle, the first
rover trundled across the moon's surface during the Apollo 15
mission in 1971, and continued to chart new lunar territory during
two subsequent Apollo lunar missions.
Student racers face similar challenges. Last October, teams
began designing their own rovers, capable of withstanding the
-- a complex field of craters, gullies and ridges made of plywood
and tires and covered with a realistic layer of gravel and sand.
Each lunar rover must have two drivers -- a male and a female.
The Marshall Center presented the first-place team with a trophy
depicting NASA's original lunar rover, and gave plaques and
certificates to the two runners-up. The first-place team also
received a one-week trip to the advanced Space Camp program at the
Space & Rocket Center, courtesy of ATK Launch Systems and
Jacobs Technology. Individuals on all three winning teams received
commemorative medals and cash prizes from ATK Launch Systems.
Marshall engineers awarded two "Best Design" awards to high
school teams that excelled at solving the engineering problems
associated with traversing the lunar surface. Erie High School Team
I took home the top design award; Scotlandville Magnet High School
in Baton Rouge, La., was awarded second place for best design.
Scotlandville took home a second award of the day for "Best
A special "Pits Crew Award" for
ingenuity and persistence in overcoming race-day challenges was won
by the only home-schooled race team in the
2008 competition, Niles Homeschool Hub in Niles, MI. Alexandria
High School in Alexandria, AL, was awarded "Most Unique Buggy" in
the high school division. NASA's "Safety Systems Award" for best
safeguarding buggy drivers was presented to the German Space
Education Institute in Leipzig, Germany.
The team from Puerto Rico High School in Fajardo, Puerto Rico,
which endured a buggy-toppling crash early in the day, continued
unfazed and earned the "Rookie Award" for posting the fastest time
among competition newcomers. The "Most Improved" award went to Lima
Senior High School Team II, one of two returning teams from the
Lima, Ohio, school.
"The enthusiasm and engineering savvy of these young innovators
is terrific to see," said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Marshall
Center's Academic Affairs Office, which organizes the race each
year. "NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race is a great example of the
educational projects and initiatives NASA undertakes each year to
inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers,
who will carry on the nation's mission of exploration, to the moon
and onward into the solar system."
Twenty-nine college and university teams are expected to race
Saturday, April 5, in the college division of NASA's Great