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97-04-17 Great Moon Buggy Race

Students Test Engineering Skills in Fourth \"Great Moon Buggy Race\"

Beth Schmid
Headquarters, Washington, DC                       April 17, 1997
(Phone:  202/358-1760)

Jerry Berg
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
(Phone:  205/544-0034)

RELEASE:  97-70


STUDENTS TEST ENGINEERING SKILLS IN FOURTH "GREAT MOON BUGGY RACE"

     The same spirit of ingenuity that produced NASA's Lunar Roving
Vehicle is back at work as college and high school students from around
the country prepare for the 4th Annual "Great Moon Buggy Race" in
Huntsville, AL. 

     Students will put their engineering skills to the test by designing,
building and racing their versions of the "moon buggy"  on a track
simulating the lunar surface.  Teams representing 16 colleges and high
schools will compete beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 19 at the
U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. 

     Competitors will race in the shadow of a giant Saturn V, like the
rocket that boosted NASA's lunar rover to the Moon, and a full-size Space
Shuttle mock-up.  The one-half mile race course is speckled with "lava
ridges," "craters" and sandpits -- simulating the lunar surface -- as it
winds through the Rocket Center's grounds. 

     This year's moon buggy race is sponsored by NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center -- where the lunar roving vehicle and the Saturn V were
designed and developed.  The moon buggy helped astronauts explore their
landing sites on the Moon during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions. 

     "The fascinating thing I see over and over is the students' interest
in space," said Jim Dowdy, moon buggy competition coordinator at Marshall. 
"They go for anything that's connected to the space program.  The
competition enhances awareness of human exploration and development of
space." 

     Each two-member team will race its human-powered buggy, piloted by
one male and one female student.  After a safety inspection of each
vehicle, the competition will begin when the two crew members carry their
moon buggy a distance of 20 feet and place it at the starting line. 

     Once the signal comes that the event clock is ticking, the crews will
unfold and assemble their moon buggies from a bin no larger than a 4-foot
cube and race around the course.  The event clock will stop when the
vehicle and its crew cross the finish line.  Prizes will be awarded to the
top three finishers.  The top prize is a trip to Kennedy Space Center in
Florida to watch a Space Shuttle launch.  A prize also will be awarded to
the buggy judged to be the "best" design from an original, creative
concept and offering the best technical solution to navigating on a
planetary surface. 

     Teams scheduled to compete in the race are from Arizona State
University (Tempe); Auburn University (Auburn, AL); North Dakota State
(Fargo); Ozark Community College (Springfield, MO);  Pittsburg State
University (Pittsburg, KS); Trenton State College (Trenton, NJ);
University of Alabama in Huntsville; University of Evansville (Evansville,
IN); University of Florida (Gainesville);  University of Puerto Rico
(Humacao); University of Vermont (Burlington); University of California
(Santa Barbara); and the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). 

     There are three entries in the high school division:  Bob Jones High
School (Huntsville, AL); Monterey High School (Monterey, LA); and Autauga
County Vocational Center (Prattville, AL). 

     Other sponsors of the event include the American Institute of
Aeronautics and Astronautics, Washington, DC, and the U.S. Space and
Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL. 

Note to Editors:  Satellite feeds consisting of moon buggy B-roll and team
member interviews gathered during the race will be available the afternoon
of April 19, beginning at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT.  If there are
questions about the video feed, please call Connie James of Marshall TV at
205/544-3234.  The video will be transmitted on the GE-2 satellite,
transponder 9C, at 85 degrees West longitude, with a frequency of 3880
MHz, and audio on 6.8 MHz. 

                          -end-
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