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2008 Moonbuggy Races

The 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race held at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama on April 4-5th.
This past April 4-5th 2008 was the 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Races held each year in Huntsville Alabama at the US Space and Rocket Center. Carleton University Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (CuSEDS) competed for a second time in this event.

Last year saw Canada's very first entry in the races. Carleton's team unfortunately had problems with their vehicle and it broke down at the first obstacle. The two drivers were determined to finish the race. They got out and pushed the buggy around the entire 1KM course. For their effort the team won the "Crash and Burn Award". (click here to read last year's story)

Armed with a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge, the team regrouped in early September 2007 and began work on an entirely new design. Their experience helped in not only the design but also the importance of organization and teamwork. This time, the team was even more focused and completed the vehicle a few days before the trip to Huntsville.

Close to 70 teams entered the races which were held over the two days. 35 high school teams from across the US and around the world competed on the friday. The German high school team visited again along with a team from India.

The Sunday Huntsville Times cover showing Team Carleton racing to their 3rd place finish at the 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race held at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama on April 4-5th.
I was again fortunate to visit with Ron Creel, Sonny Morea and Otha "Skeet" Vaughan. All three were officials at the races and visited with each team. The winning High School team had one of the fastest times ever recorded, at 3:17. The race day included some heavy rains but they all managed to complete the day.

Our team arrived on the friday and had a chance to see some of the high schools compete. We were very happy to learn that a second Canadian Team had registered for the races. Last year, Discovery Channel's "Daily Planet" followed our team on race day and ran the story across Canada. Students at the University of McMaster who are "Daily Planet" fans caught the report and wanted to join the event. The RED ROVER team (Steve Remilli, Albert Succi, Kristen Pouw, Jaquie Reaume, Adam Vespi, and Marc Christopher) ventured down to Huntsville and readied themselves for the race.

McMaster were the first team to compete on the Saturday. Unfortunately they ran into problems the day before with their front drive system. Not wanting to quit, they turned the vehicle around and used the rear drive as the front drive. The severity of the course took its toll on both riders and vehicle. Unfortunately they were forced to pull out after their rear tire crumpled in the crater area. I was extremely proud of each of member of the team and hope the experience will inspire them to send another group next year.

Team Carleton ran their first heat and did very well, completing the entire course in 6:33 minutes. This was a fantastic accomplishment given the team's finish last year and their goal of completing the course was easily accomplished.

With the first heat under their belts our team had a chance to think about how to attack the course during their second heat. They did even better and ran it in 5:14 which gave them 3rd place.

Team Carleton negotiating obstacle #2
The winning High School team, Erie High School Team II, from Erie Kansas won with a time of 3:17. The University winners were Evansville University, from Evansville Indiana with a time of 4:25. It is my sincere hope that next year we will have members from the Canadian Space Agency in attendance. Mr Graham Gibbs who is Counsellor, Space Affairs/Canadian Space Agency,
Canadian Embassy in Washington has been a strong supporter of our team and hopes to visit next year.

During both day's awards presentations, the NASA guests and space industry officials in attendance all voiced how impressed they were with the teamwork and dedication every student displayed. They also stressed how vital it is to continue studying and working in the very difficult fields of math, science and engineering. All of the countries who participated in this event will be working with each other to return to the moon and beyond.

Special thanks must go again to Durlean Bradford and to all of her organizers and volunteers for this year's 15th annual race. Check out more information about the Great Moonbuggy Races at the Marshall Space Center site here.

Special Thanks goes to the following sponsors for Carleton's Moonbuggy 2008:

Special thanks to our sponsors: Industrielles Solutions Industries, Loucon Metal Limited, Lindsay Dodge Chrysler, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Cusef.
Industrial Solutions, Loucon Metal limited, Lindsay Dodge Chrysler, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Cusef.

Special thanks again this year to Alex Proctor & Kevin Sangster at Carleton University's Workshop for your support, guidance and for giving us space to machine and construct our vehicle.

The 2008 Moonbuggy team were: Lindsay Los and Danny Cole (Riders), Stefan Madansingh, Jeremy Caron, Scott Read (project manager), Brian Mattock, Jesse Hiemstra, Curtis Parks, Zi Zhang, Hareen Kaththotage, and Don McMillan (Moonbuggy Mentor).

Special thanks to Doug Parks for driving the vehicle trailer to and from Huntsville.

Thanks to The Ottawa Citizen, CJOH Television Weekend News Show, A-Channel Ottawa and the folks at the US Space and Rocket Center's Live remote center.

Story links to the 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race can be found here:
• Story on NASA's site about the 2008 Great Moonbuggy Races high school event... here
• Story about the university teams saturday event ...here
• Visit McMaster University's RED ROVER team site... here.
• NASA Edge video story of the races (Carleton is in the credits at 6 sec. mark)
(HD version (235 megs) NASA Edge of this story ...here )
• Great story and overview of the 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race (PDF)... here

Visit "Conversations with Apollo" podcast site. Episode #9 has an inteview with LRV veteran Ron Creel. Ron is the gentleman who helped me with my lunar rover 3D model.. here

Team Carleton 3rd Place Award

Team Carleton Riders Lindsay Los and Danny Cole