The 18th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race, which took place April 1 and 2 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., hosted about 90 student teams. The competition helps students learn problem-solving skills while exposing them to careers in engineering, science and space exploration. Twenty-two states and a number of countries were represented. The Moonbuggy Race was born out of the era of innovation in which the first Apollo-era lunar rover crossed the moon’s surface 40 years ago.
The objective of the race is to build a two-person, human-powered buggy and then produce the fastest assembly of the buggy and compete for the fastest race times. Teams can be penalized while traveling on a half-mile course of rock, gravel, sand and other materials. Students must demonstrate they can power their own buggy with one female and one male student riding over the course. Each buggy must include lunar rover-style fenders, a flag and simulated batteries, communications antenna, radio and TV camera.
Buggy drivers race against time rather than each other. Judges give penalty points if drivers’ hands or feet touch the ground or if the vehicle loses equipment. Participants must go over each obstacle in their path without overturning their machine or surpassing 10 minutes on the clock.
Top prizes are awarded to the three teams in each division that post the best assembly and race times.
While AACT earned 10th out of 87 teams overall in the high school division, they also received an award for being the fastest rookie team of the year from Northrop Grumman Corp. Every participating team also received a plaque.