The 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race is set for April 4-5. During the race, dozens of high school and college teams careen around a track at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. They pilot wheeled rovers of their own design, and perhaps launch their future as the next generation of lunar explorers.
More than 40 student teams from 18 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada and India have already registered. The student competitors design, build and race their very own lightweight, two-person lunar vehicles. The buggies are modeled after the historic rovers that Americans first drove on the lunar surface during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. The teams exhaustively test their creations to ensure the sometimes delicate vehicles can negotiate the punishing terrain of the half-mile, obstacle-strewn course.
Students race their human-powered vehicles in time trials across a simulated moon surface. Moonbuggies race against the clock, rather than side-by-side. The event is open to the public.
The three fastest-finishing moonbuggies in both the high school and college categories win prizes from the race sponsors. Students win additional awards for the most unique moonbuggy design, best overall design, most improved team, best rookie team and most spirited team.