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NASA Moonbuggy Race - NASA Moonbuggy Race 2011

Ralf Heckel, International Space Education Institute

If, in future, we want to settle the moon and the planets as we live in orbit right now, we’ll need to be willing to swap nationality against an ‘earth-citizenship’. Exploring space is the task of humanity as a whole. It may be pioneered by several nations at first, but at the end of the day we’ll all have to be prepared to work together smoothly to discover the new. Each captain needs a crew. Great achievements are therefore only possible in a team, with impeccable excellence and consideration for safety, above all. These are the core values of NASA and the house rules of ISS. And I love them – thank you, America!

Last year, 2010, we scored the best time in the Moonbuggy Race. For a long while afterwards we didn’t really realize what that meant. The success was such a surprise that each of our team was unprepared. Afterall, it’s only 1 second of a difference – not more, and not less. But it was pivotal. And the Moonbuggy by the team of Fajardo Vocational High School (PR) and ours couldn’t be more different. That single second showed that many ways lead to success. Thank you, Puerto Rico, fort his experience!


speedrecord speedrecord

An absolutely surprice was the speedrecord of our pilots. For a short time at the training in Huntsville, our buggy drove a speed of 50 mph (80 km/h). Thank you Stefan and Steffi for this great power.

We also believe that many of your noticed that, for the first time, a foreign team took the title. Was that a little Sputnik-style shock? Then again, why not? We never understood the Moonbuggy Race as one-off event, but as a never-ending journey. Still, we were conscious of having roused your enthusiasm. Many US team leaders thanked us, and that made us proud. We know that there is only one goal for each of you again: To be better. All of the team members from Germany are keeping this in mind – they have great respect for you.

Since our first international participation 5 years ago, it’s become increasingly vital for us also to inspire other nations for the Moonbuggy Race. The Moonbuggy has a great future if it goes multinational. Nothing is as self-evident as to do this in Russia, Europe’s strongest space nation. Our nations, US – Germany – Russia, have a common historic core. This is where space exploration began. German engineers were also working in Russia on the rockets for Sputnik and Gagarin – like the ‘Von Braun-Team’ in Huntsville. That’s why we drove ten thousands of kilometers through Russia with the students and their Moonbuggy. There were already two races in Russia and a number of talks. The word ‘Moonbuggy’ – or subtly adapted, ‘lunar buggy’ – is now part of the Russian vocabulary. Now we’re having a little break from the Russian roads, as they couldn’t be worse on the Moon. Man and machine did their best during this east-bound roadshow – they’re well prepared now!



It is therefore with great pleasure that I’m presenting two Russian teams in 2011, this special year. One team is driving under our support. Another team initially trained with us, but now want to be in competition. We’re really excited.



A big respect goes to the first team from Africa. 3 years long we supported a school on Kenya and showed them a Moonbuggy. 1200 students in Kilifi near Mombasa ware excited. But there is no electrical power, no water and no toilett and a very slow internet. First we built a restroom for all. So it is a great surprice to know a team from Ethopia at the Moonbuggy Race. Welcome Africa!



Why there is so much enthusiasm this year, I’d like to explain too. Just like in America, Russia celebrates 40 Years of the Lunar Rover. ‘Lunokhod 1’ was an automatic rover that landed on the Moon even a bit earlier than LRV. It took 20,000 photographs, 200 films and covered around 7 miles on the Moon. We visited Lunokhod with our Moonbuggy and we can bring along its chief designer and telemetry pilot. In addition to that, April 12th, only 10 days after the Moonbuggy Race 2011 will be a double anniversary again: That’s 30 years Space Shuttle and 50 years Gagarin’s flight. Both are firsts and ground-breaking achievements. They’re based on excellence, integrity and team spirit. I’m convinced this is what you’ll all be bringing to the race.


Give your best!





Russian Team TV:

German Team TV:
Moonbuggy preparations in photos:


translated by Regina Peldszus, space hability designerin, Kingston University London


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NASA Moonbuggy Race - NASA Moonbuggy Race 2010

A wave of sympathy from Germany met the aerospace students from Moscow, and might provide and stepping-stone for their future. The test-run of an integrated, free summer programme for future crafts and engineering finished today after 4 eventful weeks. Our expectations were exceeded across industry, crafts, business, education and aerospace.

Minister Tesch (Education), 2.9.2010, NeustrelitzMarina Tereshkova (20, IT student), Yan Kadirov (21, robotics student) und Yevgeny Sakutin (22, CAD specialist) of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) left Russia amid the wildfires of August 2010 and headed to Leipzig. They followed a vision of cross-national cooperation of young high-performance teams to gain new vocational skills. The study and work plan during their semester break was oriented entirely on 4 simple core values of teamwork, integrity, excellence and safety. It comprised of a daily schedule from 6:30 am to midnight.

Marina and V2, 3.9.2010, PeenemündeAfter over 30 workshops and excursions through the different areas of German trade and engineering, it was clear to the Chamber of Crafts and the Freies Gymnasium Borsdorf (free highschool) that there was no better role-model for our youth than other ambitious and hardworking young people. A hint of internationality became the carrier for this vision, opened hearts and enticed the more mature generations to join in and pass on their know-how.

Thus, the up-and-coming engineers showed their skills during the Day of Vocational Orientation in Crafts, and there the Working Group Space Education was founded as an extracurricular project for schools. The group from Moscow was handpicked during 71 international projects in 4 years. Next year, for the 50th anniversary Yuri Gagarin’s flights, it’s their goal to represent Russia at the NASA Moonbuggy Race, a US young engineering competition, in cooperation with the Leipzig-based International Space Education Institute.

Moonbuggy Test, 9.9.2010, LeipzigNumerous companies in and around Leipzig opened their doors to the team under the current motto of the Chamber of Crafts “No Spaceflight Without Crafts”. Indeed, Leipzig can look back on 5 famous space engineers from ISS, Apollo and Sputnik times and earlier. This motivates the youth.

The workshop and additional expenses, including flights, were financed by the students – not through money, but ideas and participation. The newly opening Space Hotel Leipzig provided a junior suite to each of them and arranged a job for 1-2hrs a day. That covered all expenses. The potential of the exclusive group – who became a strong team in the past 4 weeks – will pave the way for setting up a number of student enterprises in crafts, engineering and business. ARD (the large German public broadcaster) documented the project for a day in the framework of the 20th anniversary “20 Years Fall of the Wall”.

Award-Zeremonie, 10.9.2010, HandwerkskammerOn Friday, 10th September 2010 it was space day, and Dr Schmidt of the Vocational and Technology Centre of the Chamber of Crafts awarded the students from Moscow their certificate for successfully completing welding exercises in three categories. Mr Heim of Commerzbank Leipzig handed on to space ambassador Yvonne Heckel the cashed NASA cheque for the German Moonbuggy world champion team 2010 worth 4,190.60 EUR. In addition to this, he presented the Moscow students with prize money of 200 EUR from this fund, as jump-start for their big goal at NASA.

The students from Moscow plan to further develop their skills at the German workshops in Leipzig during the winter in order to provide a secure base for self-financing their future study wishes through integration in the Russian economy. This is an exchange that works, since for the winter holidays, German students and apprentices are already eagerly waiting for their new role-models from Moscow.

Our counterpart of the journey will depart to Russia in October in time for the 20th anniversary of German Unification. The German embassy in Moscow supports this exchange with a simplified issuing process of student visa. Amongst other destinations, the German Moonbuggy will visit many schools, universities and sites of the Mars500 project between Moscow and Kiev.

The Winning Moonbuggy Team 2011 from Germany and the upcoming Russian Team
are the racehorces for the european pre-competition to the NASA Moonbuggy
Race at the Leipzig Bysicle Fair in November 2010. We are looking forward to
see this trailblazers on first places.

At April 12th in 2011:
- Germany celebrates 5 years international NASA Moonbuggy competition.
- Russia celebrates 50 years Gagarin´s flight
- USA celebrates 30 years Space Shuttle
- USA/Russia celebrates 40 years LRV1 / Lunockhod2


Who will make the future? This year will be the toughest competition since

On TV:
3. Oktober 2010, 21:00 GMT+1, ARD
and: Documentary Film Festival Leipzig, 13.-17. October 2010

Workshop Videos:


Workshop Reports (for now in Russian):

Special thanks are extended to the following organizations and people:
-         Chamber of Crafts Leipzig
-         Vocational and Technology Centre Borsdorf
-         Bruno Banani, Chemnitz
-         Fahrzeugbau Frank, Leipzig
-         DEKRA Leipzig
-         Turnery Günther Jakob, Holzhausen
-         Wittenbecher Maschinenbau, Leipzig
-         Space Hotel Leipzig
-         Solarwatt Dresden
-         Solarpark Grimma
-         Commerzbank Leipzig
-         Ball-Bearing Works Leipzig
-         LOOKS Film&TV Ltd., Leipzig
-         Ediniy Rossia, TV-Team of UFA
-         Mr Schmidt, PhD (BTZ-Borsdorf)
-         Ms Wolter, PhD (Handwerkskammer zu Leipzig)
-         Mr Mühlendorfer Voigt (HTI Peenemünde)
-         Mr Mett, PhD (DLR-Campus Neustrelitz)
-         Mr Reinhold (V2 rocketeer, 99 Jahre alt)
-         Ms Krylova (Cousin von Sputnik-Konstrukteur Korolev)
-         Ms Frank (Great cousin of Herrmann Oberth)
-         Ms Hackl (Direktorin Freies Gymnasium Borsdorf)
-         Mr Henri Schulz (Private Oberservatory Kletzen)
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MARS500 - General Mars500
Moscow, June 3rd 2010

Finally! Today's the day. The sun is shining over Moscow. The hatches close with a faintly smacking sound. Dozens of flash bulbs go off. The life support system boots up for the next 520 days. Six crew members get ready for entry into orbit before docking with the giant propulsion module with its even larger solar sails. The solid rocket boosters accelerate with a rumble. Slowly, the electric drives gear up with a stinging arc of light and accelerate the crew to 14km/sec, a speed never before reached by a human. It's on a course to Mars. And a daily routine begins for the next 240 days in microgravity, while home is shrinking into a small blue star in the rear window. Only three astronauts will be able to say the sentence that will mark the new millennium. Perhaps it's this one: "We are the first to step on Mars, and we won't be the last".

Bild1Finally! Today's the day. The sun is shining over Moscow. The hatches close with a faintly smacking sound. Dozens of flash bulbs go off. The life support system boots up for the next 520 days. Six crew members get ready for entry into orbit before docking with the giant propulsion module with its even larger solar sails. The solid rocket boosters accelerate with a rumble. Slowly, the electric drives gear up with a stinging arc of light and accelerate the crew to 14km/sec, a speed never before reached by a human. It's on a course to Mars. And a daily routine begins for the next 240 days in microgravity, while home is shrinking into a small blue star in the rear window. Only three astronauts will be able to say the sentence that will mark the new millennium. Perhaps it's this one: "We are the first to step on Mars, and we won't be the last".

I'd like to take the opportunity on this solemn day to tell of the breath-taking preparations of this experiment in the coming months. I am probably the only representative here to participate in this "flight to Mars" with partners from enterprise without a national stake.  The ticket was immensely dear. For many it is priceless and cost us 5 years worth of time, ideas, enthusiasm and vision.

This is why I'd like to extend my gratitude to Bruno Banani, spaceflight ambassador Yvonne, Prof. Evgeniy Demin (IMPB), Prof. Anatoly Zotov (MAI), Prof. Vladimir Malozemov (MAI) and last but not least also Prof. Dr. von Puttkamer (NASA) for their constant support. But also our visionary students since 2005 have contributed to this. In particular, I wish to thank Regina Peldszus (Doctoral Researcher Space Habitability Design, Kingston University London), Ivan Therekov (Engineer at Suchoi), Stefan Martini (Moonbuggy Pilot), Vanessa Gstettenbauer (Mission 3) and Thommy Knabe (Moonbuggy Chief Designer).


Five years ago, when I first entered the module at IMBP with German students and listened to the engineers, I would never have guessed that we'd play a part in the preparations for a human flight to Mars some day. Nevertheless we caught the bug: infected with curiosity and the insight that it's possible to constantly push your own boundaries. You only need the determination to do it.

Friedrich Zander

However, today I'd like to remember a man who gave his life for this dream. Friedrich Zander (1887-1933) was a German born Russian engineer and spaceflight pioneer who coined the term of the heading "Perechod na Mars". Sacrificing his health, he built the foundations that today form the basis of the Mars module: The support of life adoring interplanetary long duration missions. It was him who discussed feasibility issues with the godfather of spaceflight, Ziolkowsky. It was him who formed the first group of enthusiastic young engineers (GIRD) and aimed for Mars early on, together with Korolyov who later built Sputnik and Gagarin's rocket. He named his daughter Astra. Today, she is over 80 years old and lives to see the actualisation of this dream.


Today I presented the chief designer of the Mars-bound spacecraft with a photograph of my daughter Cosma who's standing in front of the mighty Saturn V rocket in Davidson Center, Huntsville/Alabama. He'd like to place it in the spacecraft. May Cosma, who's three years old, live to know the dreams of Astra, her father and all visionaries, and to maybe fulfil them some day.

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Website - General
Leipzig, May 20th 2010


HandwerkskammerLast Thursday our initiative welcomed official space agency representatives of our country for the first time in the 8 years of our existence. This visit was designed for us all to get to know each other and we've toyed with the idea as early as December 2008 in Philadelphia.

Mr Michael Heinze, advisor to the board of directors, DLR, and Dr Wolfgang Mett, scientist and director of business development Neustrelitz, DLR, arrived by plane from Cologne. Their first impression was surprise about the changes of the Leipzig area during the post unification years.

It was the intention of the International Space Education Institute to show the delegates as much as possible of the enthusiasm, excitement and pioneering spirit in the area of space education in Leipzig as bridge between Huntsville and Moscow. The focus was to present an overview of the achievements of networking outside state funded schemes, in particular how this resulted in a winning team at the NASA Moonbuggy Race 6 weeks earlier.

Accordingly, the schedule was packed and there wasn't time to visit all ports of call on the itinerary. But at all times there were constructive conversations on an almost visionary level. At the end of the day both parties gained profound insights into each others' work and formed a strong basis for future cooperation. Throughout the day, they surprised each other with an open and cordial  air, subject competency and a personal interest at the core of change for education and vocational orientation.

The following places and people were visited:

Sternwarte KletzenObservatory Kletzen
Mr Henri Schulz, Director

This is private, self-constructed observatory acts as school observatory for SEI students and their high school science projects. It also broadens the horizons (optical and philosophical) of young people. The designer, builder and owner is a member of the institute and has acquired all related knowledge and skills autodidactically and through practice. Both guests appeared impressed and interested in all details. Mr Schulz cherished the spotless subject matter expertise of his guests.

Bild1Chamber of Crafts, Leipzig
Mr Joachim Dirschka, President
Dr Andrea Wolter, Communications Director

The surprise success of the trial project Mooonbuggy as vocational orientation measure has made close allies of the Chamber of Crafts and the International Space Education Institute.
This meeting served as encounter of two industries who, according to received wisdom, don't go together. SEI understands craft, engineering and science as integrated unit and practices that in its training programme.

The discussion mainly focused on necessary ways for a new approach to education and vocational orientation. A common denominator was quickly found.
At the end of the visit, ambassador Yvonne Heckel presented the president of the chamber with the world champion award of the Moonbuggy team and thanked them for their support. The Chamber of Crafts displayed selected parts of the Moonbuggy and its processes and engineering background in a cabinet.

Bild2Discovering Leipzig's unknown space history
Tour guide Ralf Heckel

The guests of DLR were shown the remains of the houses were Prof Dr von Puttkamer, Prof Harry O Ruppe and Rudolf Bromme were born, as well as the early workplaces of Eberhad Rees. Thus they learned a lot about the historical roots and their evolution from crafts and engineering into today's spaceflight industry. It was a surprise for the guests to find that parts of the Korolyev family (Sputnik) have been in Saxony already since 1907 and are still here today.

ISEIInternational Space Education Institute

The core cell of the institute is the recently acquired estate in Wurzener Straße 4. The five storey Wilhelminian style building boasts 2000 m² of green grounds, workshops, seminar rooms and dormitory, and is a popular meeting point for youngsters who want to get ahead. The simplicity of the building and its interior encourages down-to-earthness and hard work in home-rule. Remaining overnight accommodation is utilised as part of the "Space Hostel" during fair season to cover overheads and project costs during.

Max Frank

Sports Grammar School and Moonbuggy
Mr Rädler, Head Teacher
Dr Wolfgang Gerber, Geography & Astronomy Teacher
Max Frank (17), Moonbuggy Team Trainer

As sports elite school, the Sports Grammar School Leipzig presents an opportunity of professional sports for students without chances of further education. They support vocational orientation in crafts and techology without neglecting sports and fun. On one hand the Moonbuggy offered the perfect prerequisites and combined them with the necessary thrill of the new for the students. On the other, the sports students focus their construction team on a single mission goal with their enviable training drive. The SEI has learnt to appreciate this symbiosis very much.

SportgymnasiumMax Frank trained the world champion Moonbuggy-Team 2010 and held a talk to 8th graders. The DLR guests observed that lesson and saw the student's enthusiasm sparked by Max during the break when all admired the Moonbuggy on display. The cabinet also contains parts, processes and awards. They made a big impression on the guests. The meeting with the students, enthusiastic teachers and the competency of Max opened hearts.



Space HotelSpace Hotel Leipzig ***

As the Space Hostel's "big brother", the Space Hotel Leipzig *** recently opened as trial project in Gräfestraße 15. This low budget business model benefitted from the experience of over 70 flight trips in the framework of SEI. The conference hotel is intended as venue for international exchange groups, workshops, seminars, and of course as another business and vocational instruction centre.

The interior walls consist of hundreds of images from our many excursions through the world of spaceflight. In the tradition of the third US president Jefferson, the bible usually found in the drawers of hotel room furniture was swapped with the books "On the trails of chief constructor Korolyev" and "To the Moon with Bolts and Nuts" (about Eberhard Rees). Thus the focus was placed on science, craft and technology. The Business-Centre was rebuilt into a Miniclub. The former breakfast buffet is now an online-restaurant with PCs. All food is delivered in 15 min on the push of a button while you work next door in an integrated NASA-style way.  

This is where we have lunch together with the director of the Vocational & Technology Centre, Dr Schmidt. There's the local speciality Leizpiger Allerlei, followed by kettle goulash and red cabbage.

BorsdorfVocational & Technology Centre Borsdorf
Dr. Schmidt, Director

This place combines 35 vocational apprenticeships under one roof. The fragrances change from motor oil and welding smoke, from butchery, wood workshop to construction. We don't have time to look at everything. Nevertheless, the integrated concept and the enthusiasm of new possibilities through the Space Euducation Institute convince with their ability to provide visions and goals for the apprentices.
Dr Schmidt guides the delegates through the halls and earns their praise and recognition at every stop, above all through the innovative combination of apprenticeship and further education. During a coffee break at around 4pm, we reflect on the visit and decide it was not the last one.

At 5pm a long but very eye-opening day ends for everyone.



Some Statements of all Parties.

Hi Mr Heckel,
I hope you had a successful day yesterday. Have only heard positive news from Dr Schmidt.
Many thanks,
Dr. Andrea Wolter, Communications Director, Chamber of Crafts Leipzig


Dear Mr Heckel

I was impressed by your considerable historical and up-to-date knowledge of spaceflight in the US and equally  in Russia. I don't know of anyone who is that excellently connected to the contemporaries of the beginnings of spaceflight and their descendants.
In particular I liked how, as space visioneers, you and your wife managed to win youngsters, industry and even the Chamber of Crafts for your Moonbuggy project, and thus sparked their fascination for spaceflight. We should couple your approach (fascination of space, sports ambition, student-led high tech development, cooperation with industry) with ours at DLR (DLR_Campus) and make sure that, for instance "your" spaceflight fans visit our DLR_School_Lab in Neustrelitz and we do a Moonbuggy event there at the same time. We could also think about a collaborative summercamp.
Before I end I have another compliment for the owner of the private observatory, Mr Henri Schulz (correct name?): He has fulfilled the dream I had as a teenager aged about 18. And he did it without formal degrees in astronomy, electronics, optics or construction. Amazing!

Dr Wolfgang Mett, DLR


Leipzig is still worth a trip today

It was hardly known a few years ago that this town was home to some of the godfathers of spaceflight. Those roots were found only after the investigations of the SEI, and they reach far into the past into times where the term spaceflight itself was still unknown. But from an aviation, aerospace and astronomy perspective, Leipzig is not only a historically interesting venue. There are also new approaches to get young people into engineering.  

The broad range of activities in technology and science are given the cutting edge by aviation and space. This paved the way through integration of private intitiative, and the areas of enterprise and education. It is great to see that representatives of DLR came to get a first hand impression and were able to witness themselves what was created here in the past years.

Now it's important to focus the existing forces to sustainably and continuously strengthen the position of the area as a location for vocational orientation. The successes of the Moonbuggy as product of international collaboration of motivated youths show us a direction where the results of future collaborative support through the areas of aviation and space could make Leipzig into a source of future technology development.

I will continue to support the students of SEI in the future. This is what I see as my commitment as a member of DGLR and, to be honest, it's fun to work with motivated youngsters.

Peter Scheuermann,
Teacher for IT, astronomy and amateur radio

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NASA Moonbuggy Race - NASA Moonbuggy Race 2010

by Ralf Heckel
International Space Education Institute

Leipzig, May 8th, 2010

pic01On Saturday night, May 8th, we celebrated a world champion. More than 60 invited guests, among them sponsors, supporters, family and instructors, joined the NASA Moonbuggy Team of the International Space Education Institute for the annual award ceremony.

The Chamber of Trade shone with a lush buffet, put together by the food technology apprentices of the Vocational Technology Centre of the chamber. The apprentices had also produced the 50 awards to be presented that night.


pic02A big surprise was the cheque of €2,000 presented to the International Space Education Institute by the owner of Frank-Fahrzeugbau Ltd. The gift was part of the prize money the company received recently as winners of the PUULitzer Prize. Sponsored by PUUL Ltd., the Chamber of Trade Leipzig, IHK Leipzig, Sparkasse Leizpig and ARGE Leipzig, the award honours “Exemplary Organisational Culture“. A keg of beer was thrown in, too.,0,2096.html

pic03Other companies joined Frank-Fahrzeugbau and assured their continuing support based on the achievements of the Moonbuggy Team. Thus, HinzTec presented us with an additional data module for modulating telemetry with the hint for additional Moonbuggies. Mr Hinz also pledged to support the furnishing of the Moonbuggy-trailer with a protective SMS security system.


Mr Ronny Hessel of the turnery Günter Jakob counted pennies of serial production costs of the Moonbuggy differential gear and said: “Since the students designed this themselves, since their drawings were accurate and the development was free, I can now batch-produce these high precision parts for only €250 a piece“. He offered free production for the next five Moonbuggies. The serial drive is supposed to go into production immediately in order to give more than 100 interested Moonbuggy teams worldwide the opportunity to acquire and assemble them during an engineering workshop in Leipzig. These workshops will be lead by existing German team members in the framework of a management course.


Around 8pm all guests assembled in the conference room for a presentation of SEI director Ralf Heckel. The talk touched on recruiting in Russia, the team’s preparations in Leipzig and the race in Huntsville. An introduction with an excerpt of the film “Magnificent Desolation“, narrated by Tom Hanks, was received particularly well. Also the Moonbuggy Race films “Speedrecord“, “NASA-TV“ and “Russian Moonbuggy“ were met with great applause.


At 9.30pm it was time for space education ambassador Yvonne to present the long awaited awards. More than 30 guests received the valuable stucco work that night. More awards will be presented at the ILA in Berlin and sent to Moscow and Huntsville.


A team of young journalists produced a news story.


Photo gallery:

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