For Immediate Release – Lawton, OK, March 30, 2004

(Please note photo/interview arrangements mentioned at the end of this release.)

 

 

Cameron University students ready to race

as team’s gear up for annual moonbuggy event

 

High school and college teams from 18 states and Puerto Rico have their eyes on the moon. But their thoughts and energies are here on Earth as they put finishing touches on some strange-looking machines called “moonbuggies.”

 

These students – including eight from Cameron University -- have worked long hours designing and building a vehicle they'll race across a simulated lunar terrain at NASA's 11th annual Great Moonbuggy Race.

 

Cameron is one of 32 college teams that will take to the challenging course April 3 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.  The collegiate competition comes one day after 37 high school teams race the same course.  Cameron is Oklahoma’s only representative in the competition.

 

The CU moonbuggy team consists of engineering design majors Eugene Hancock from Comanche, Dean Callas from Lawton, Luke Kuhlmann from Sterling, David Schilling from Inglewood, Calif., Curtis Darby from Lubbock, Texas, Yadira Renneberg from Odessa, Texas, and Wayne Zamore from Roseau, Dominica; and computer-aided design drafting majors Jennifer Springli from Lawton, and Fred Tabert from Seattle, Wash. The team is under the guidance of under the guidance of assistant technology professor Todd Raborn.

(over)

moonbuggy, ADD ONE

 

The race is a grueling endurance test over a half-mile course of twists, turns and inclines, as well as simulated lunar craters, rocks, lava ridges and soil. Like the moon's actual terrain, the course is tough and the two buggy drivers who power the vehicle must be in top athletic condition.

 

To get to the race, teams must design their buggies, build them and test them – in much the same way that NASA engineers design space equipment. The students configure it to fit in a container no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet before assembly.

 

Two racers, one male and one female, must lift and carry the unassembled moonbuggy 20 feet without assistance and assemble it while being timed. Many teams use lightweight materials, bicycle gearing systems and bicycle wheels to pull together what they hope will be an award winner.  Just like NASCAR, the teams have pit crews ready to repair buggies that suffer damage while trekking the course's rough terrain.

 

The competition was inspired by the original Lunar Rover team of the 1960s, in an effort managed by the Marshall Center. That team had the challenge to design and build a compact, light, flexible and durable vehicle that would carry astronauts on the moon’s surface during the Apollo missions. They met the challenge as astronauts used separate Lunar Rovers on the final three moon missions -- Apollo 15, 16 and 17 -- to travel 52.51 miles, gather 620.6 pounds of rock and soil samples and return them to Earth.

 

Additional inspiration for the 2004 race also comes from President Bush's new goals for America's space program to return to the moon and explore beyond. The students who are building and racing moonbuggies now could be among those who return humans to the moon, or whose designs are adapted for future vehicles that explore the lunar or Martian surface.

 

Prizes go to the top-three teams in both divisions. A design award goes to the team in each division that represents the best technical approach toward solving the engineering problem of navigating the lunar surface.

 

The Marshall Center, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Alabama-Mississippi Section, Aerospace Development Center of Alabama, Morgan Research Corporation,

 

Jacobs Sverdrup Technology and television station WHNT, all of Huntsville, sponsor the event.

 

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PR#04-076

 

 

 

Editors and Broadcasters: A photo/interview opportunity featuring this year’s team and Cameron’s vehicle has been set for 1 p.m. Thursday, April 1, in the Howell Hall parking lot off University Drive. For details, contact CU Government & Community Relations at 580.581.2211. Event details, a listing of the competing teams, race rules, information on the course and photos from previous competitions can be found at the "Great Moonbuggy Race" Website: http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov.