For two decades, NASA has used its Great Moonbuggy Race as way to inspire students to feats of engineering and athletic prowess. Competitors have to design, build, and race lightweight, human-powered vehicles that can traverse a half-mile course simulating the surface of the moon. NASA says that the "race teams face many of the same engineering challenges dealt with by Apollo-era lunar rover developers ... in the late 1960s."
This photo shows the team from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, which took first place in the college division with a time of 3 minutes, 32 seconds. The event was held Friday and Saturday at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Second place in the college division went to "Team Russia" from the International Space Education Institute/Moscow Aviation University. Winning teams in the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race have to post the fastest vehicle assembly and race times in their divisions, and also have to minimize on-course penalties.
Team 1 from Middle Tennessee State University took third place in the college division. The race brought together approximately 600 student drivers, engineers, and mechanics in some 90 teams from 23 states and Puerto Rico, along with Canada, India, Germany, Mexico, and Russia.
NASA may not be going back to the moon anytime soon, but it can still take pride in the Apollo lunar landings of 40-plus years ago. The first appearance of a lunar rover on one of those trips to the moon was the Apollo 15 mission in the summer of 1971. The price tag was nearly $40 million for the machine, formally known as the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
The Apollo astronauts did not have to pedal their rovers, which were electric-powered. Here we see David Scott, Apollo 15's commander, at the wheel of the rover, which could hit a top speed of 10 miles per hour.
And here we are back on Earth in April 2013, looking at Team 1 from Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, winner of first place in the high school division this year with a time of 3 minutes, 24 seconds. The Great Moonbuggy Race began in 1994 with eight college teams, and high-school teams first took part in 1996.