Friday, April 2, 2010

NASA Race in Double Seater

Student team of Leipzig institute to compete at Moonbuggy-Race in Huntsville

Leipzig Today, March 31, 2010

The countdown is on: Under the auspices of the Leipzig-based International Space Education Institute (ISEI) a team of students will be competing at the Moonbuggy Race at Huntsville, US. The crew is aiming for a place on the pedestal with their vehicle - called Ganymed - in the competition hosted by NASA.

Stefan Martini, Stephanie Fleischer, Max Frank, Robert Hempel, as well as Daniel Mueller and many others have spent months building the pedalled buggy. Also students from Russia and Hungary lent a hand, supported by experts of Leipzig firms such as Doerffer Sandstrahltechnik GmbH or Dreherei Guenther Jacob. "We didn't go to sleep until the early hours yesterday just to put the finishing touches on the vehicle," says Daniel, 18, who is currently doing an apprenticeship at the Vocational & Technology Centre of the Chamber of Crafts. He is, like 16 year old Robert, a mechanic in Ganymed's crew.

Despite the short night there was not an ounce of tiredness when the creators presented the 93kg two seater yesterday. Quizzed on details of the quad-cycle buggy - which according to NASA requirements cannot exceed 1.2 by 2.5 meters - Stefan explains with great enthusiasm: "Double chain drive, 28 gears, GPS datalogger, mounted camera". The 19 year old grammar school student from Munich has regularly been spending his holidays at SEI which is registered as association. Stefan has been on the SEI team since the original model of Ganymed took part in the Moonbuggy Race. 19 year old Stephanie from Bavarian Unterschleissheim, however, only joined the institute in 2009 and will be kicking the pedals for the first time in Huntsville: "I hope the construction and my fitness will be up to scratch". The test drives were not always perfect. The race in Huntsville, where NASA used to build their moon rockets, will be a first also for Max who is studying at the local sports grammar.

Institute director Ralf Heckel has double-checked the line-up: "109 participants from all over the world have registered and will be maneuvering their buggies through a course studded with obstacles". The off-road piste is 1.2km long, there are penalties for mistakes. "I have total faith in our material and crew. If they make the same effort in the race as during construction, then we'll be up for a better score than last year's 6th position".

"We'll give everything, and we really want a place on the pedestal," says buggy pilot Stefan. "We also owe that to our sponsors and supporting companies." This weekend, the crew is off to Huntsville. They'll train and further optimize Ganymed. The race will take place on April 9 and 10. "We cross our fingers vigorously," assures Sigrid Zimmermann, managing director of the Chamber of Crafts, Leipzig, who is actively involved as project partner.

written by Mario Beck, Leipziger Volkszeitung

translated by Regina Peldszus BA MA, Doctoral Researcher Spacecraft Habitability Design


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