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MJHS sees success at NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lindsey Cotner

MJHS' The Golden Ray

Mt. Juliet High School’s Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics club placed 19 of 43 high schools from around the world at NASA’s 20th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. 

Each year, drivers, mechanics, and engineers alike migrate to Huntsville, Ala. to race their moonbuggies for a grand prize of $3,000. 

Between the high school and college divisions, roughly 600 students attended this year. There were students from 23 different states, Puerto Rico, India, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and Russia. 

To be part of the race, contestants had to design and create their own moonbuggy. The moonbuggy must have been able to hold two drivers (one boy and one girl), have a maximum dimension of  4’x 4’x 4,’ be light enough for the two drivers to carry, have a turning radius of 15 feet or less, have seat restraints, functional breaks, and the lowest surface must have been a minimum of 15 inches. 

Under the pressure of a time limit, the moonbuggies had to be carried to the start line and assembled there. Once assembled, the moonbuggies had to prove their ability to sustain a half-mile course with various obstacles that simulate “craters,” rocks, “lava” ridges, inclines and “lunar” soil. Penalties were given for taking too long to assemble your moonbuggy at the start line, avoiding obstacles, or if a driver came in contact with the ground. The course had to be completed twice by each team, and the best time was taken out of the two. 

Mt. Juliet’s moonbuggy took almost a full year to develop. With the help of the auto tech class, construction was easier. Several students from the STEM club helped to build the moonbuggy, but only six were able to attend the actual race. 

They did run into a minor problem though. The steering mechanism was not complete until the day before the actual race, causing the drivers, Brittany Roberts and Alex Lurie, to postpone practicing until they were actually in Huntsville. With that, they still managed to successfully navigate and complete the course both days. 

When asked about his thoughts on the race, STEM club sponsor David Haines remarked, “We’re very pleased with the results, especially since our drivers didn’t get the chance to practice until we were in the parking lot of the Space Center.”

Overall, Mt. Juliet’s best time was 10 minutes 35 seconds landing them 19 of the 43 high schools competing, and the number one school competing from Tennessee. 

To learn more about The Great Moonbuggy Race, visit http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov