Goodyear, NASA develop airless 'moon tire'
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have developed an airless tire to transport large, long-range vehicles across the surface of the moon.
The new "Spring Tire" contains 800 load bearing springs designed to carry heavier vehicles for longer distances than the wire mesh tire previously used on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, say Goodyear officials.
The tire has been installed on NASA's Lunar Electric Rover test vehicle, which was recently put through the paces at the Johnson Space Center's "Rock Yard" in Houston, Texas, where it performed successfully.
According to Goodyear engineers, development of the tire "was driven by the fact that traditional rubber pneumatic tires used on Earth have little utility on the moon. This is because rubber properties vary significantly between the extreme cold and hot temperatures in the shaded and directly lit areas on the moon. Furthermore, unfiltered solar radiation degrades rubber, and pneumatic tires pose an unacceptable risk of deflation."
The new "Spring Tire" is extremely durable, says Jim Benzing, Goodyear's lead on the project. "The spring design contours to the surface on which it's driven to provide traction. But all the energy used to deform the tire is returned when the springs rebound. It doesn't generate heat like a normal tire."