Whoever said NASA is only about serious space and aeronautics work obviously hasn’t checked out the government agency’s annual Great Moonbuggy Race. Here’s NASA’s press release about this exciting and entertaining competition:
Registration is open for NASA's 16th annual Great Moonbuggy Race, taking place April 3-4, 2009, in Huntsville, Alabama. Each year, NASA challenges high schools and colleges across the country and the world to design and build lightweight, human-powered moonbuggies. Innovative students put their own spin on the historic lunar rovers that carried Americans across the surface of the moon during the Apollo era. Builders with "the right stuff" then converge on Huntsville to test their engineering savvy — and their endurance.
The race was founded at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in 1994. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center hosts the 2-day event. The nationally renowned space museum and tourist attraction constructs a punishing course — a half-mile of hills and craters simulating the lunar surface — on the looping sidewalks and paths around its grounds.
Participating institutions may register up to two moonbuggies and teams each year. Registration for the 2009 race closes Feb. 1. For complete rules, Moonbuggy design parameters, and registration, visit: moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov
High school teams will compete April 3. College teams will take the course April 4. The three teams in each division that finish with the fastest race times will receive awards. NASA and industry sponsors also present additional awards for innovative buggy design, team spirit, best newcomer, and other achievements.
Participation in the race has increased annually from just eight college teams in 1994 to 46 high school and college teams in 2008, with hundreds of students coming from 17 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, India, and Germany to participate.