Moonbuggy Studio | The Great Moonbuggy Race

As with any moonbuggy club, there is a great moonbuggy race. This year marks the 18th Annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race which will be held April 1 – 2 2001 in Huntsville, Alabama, at the United States Space + Rocket Center. For the race, students are required to design a vehicle that addresses a series of engineering problems that are similar to the problems faced by the original Moonbuggy team.

As this year’s RISD moonbuggy team disembarks on their great trip today, it seemed only appropriate to revisit some of the work completed in the Moonbuggy Studio that was taught over wintersession.

Maeve Jopson (BFA ID ’13) took the course over wintersession and will be attending the race alongside ten other RISD students and their instructor, Michael Lye. Below is her synopsis of the last weeks of the course, as well as some images from her group’s final exploration.

The second to last week of the class we were given the assignment to create a quarter scale model of the design we had developed as a group. The last week, the assignment was to create a more refined version of that quarter scale model. Our group decided to take it full scale because the design issues mostly consisted of understanding systems (like drive train, steering etc). We were able to use almost all recycled parts including parts of the existing buggy from last year. The idea behind using existing parts is that we could potentially bring multiple buggies to the competition in the future and swap out parts without creating an entirely separate vehicle.

We were able to find reclaimed PVC pipes and to create the frame, lashing the joints together with carbon fiber after roughly joining them with wire. This lashing process was something we had never heard of or tried before and we were able to learn the way the composite and resin work well enough to make the frame solid. The process also provides new options for experimentation with other materials. By creating full-scale orthographic views, we could lay out the parts of the buggy and position them easily.

Working under the restrictions for the moonbuggy competition, we decided to eliminate the aspect of folding (which is necessary to fit in the four foot cube that the rules dictate), and simply make our entire buggy small enough to fit in the cube without collapsing. While the design was far from perfect and would need quite a bit of work before it could be raced, a group of five of us were able to make a full scale buggy, to the right proportions, with understanding of how the systems would work, in under a week. We hope this will be the first of multiple iterations and eventually it may become a main or alternate buggy at the competition in Huntsville, AL.

Good luck to the moonbuggy team and we look forward to hearing more soon!

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Posted by Carly Ayres | Date Posted: 30 March, 2011

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