Ad Astra Kansas

Southeast Kansas has moonbuggy masters

Two Kansas schools landed well in NASA’s 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race competition.

Erie High School, Erie, Ks., won the high school division of NASA’s 2008 Great Moonbuggy Race held at Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Ala., this spring. Rolling over the one-half mile simulated lunar course with the fastest time of 3 minutes, 17 seconds, the team of six students beat over 21 other entries from the United States and also Germany. The team also took the Top Design Award. In the previous two years, Erie placed second among 17 teams in the speed race and received the Most Unique Buggy Award.

Erie High has been mentored for several years by students of mechanical and manufacturing engineering at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan. In the college level of the 2008 contest, the university won the Best Design Award over 24 teams from around the world, including Canada and India. In the ten years that Pittsburg State has competed in the competition, it has been a
powerhouse, earning three first, three second and two third place awards. Besides Erie, PSU mentors over ten high schools in Kansas and Missouri.

The criteria for the competition mirrors that of the original moon buggy, first utilized in the 1971 Apollo 15 moon landing. For both high school and college levels the basic requirements are the same. The unassembled buggy must fit into a 4 x 4 x 4 cube, be able to be carried 20 feet by two people with no aid. When assembled the width must be no more than four feet and it must have a turning radius of no more than 15 feet; and be able to traverse simulated lunar surfaces including slopes of up to 30 degrees forward and sideways. Propulsion is human power. The vehicle must carry two people, one male and one female.

Source: NASA press release

This page was modified on 02/22/09.