Every year mechanical engineering students compete in NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race, which is sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The annual moonbuggy competition is held at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This yearly event is open to both high school and college students. The objective of the moonbuggy competition is to design a vehicle that is capable of navigating terrain similar to what is actually on the moon. To replicate the moon’s surface, the half-mile long track includes rocks, inclines, and craters. The moonbuggy must also meet design requirements that are set by NASA. Two students, one male and one female, must provide the only source of power for the moonbuggy.
The buggy is a four-wheel drive, back to back, two-rider buggy. Each rider pedals like they would on a bicycle to power the buggy through the lunar course. The race is navigated using a simple butterfly steering mechanism with a vertical steering shaft and a single disk brake system. The buggy folds into a required 4’x4’ cube using a hinge in the center of the frame allowing for a quick and easy setup. The objective is to complete the entire course in the shortest amount of time as possible. The mechanical design and fabrication of the vehicle are key for a successful race.
The 2007-08 Moonbuggy Team placed 1st in the NASA competition.