RIT Places 17th in Great Moon Buggy Race




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Three abandoned lunar rovers adorn the surface of the Moon, near the landing sites of Apollos 15, 16 and 17. A different fate awaits this year’s RIT "moon buggy."

A team of mostly mechanical engineering majors completely redesigned and built a new, efficient, foot-powered buggy used to compete in the 8th-annual Great Moon Buggy Race on April 7. Featuring side-by-side seating for two drivers (one male, one female) and a lower center of gravity, the improved buggy was pieced together using parts cannibalized from last year’s buggy.

Those improvements made a noticeable difference on the half-mile, simulated lunar-surface obstacle course at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Featuring such bumps in the road as craters, "lava" ridges, "lunar" soil and "moon" rocks, the course presents challenges faced by early NASA engineers.

After two course runs, RIT’s 10-member team finished in 17th place, besting last year’s showing, in only its second trip to the NASA-sponsored competition.

Teams from more than two dozen colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico were judged on design, assembly time and course-completion time. Great Moon Buggy Race sponsors include NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Now back home in RIT’s thermal-fluids laboratory, RIT’s "moon buggy" awaits its fate—which could include being cannibalized for next year’s buggy.