GREENVILLE, S.C. (Nov. 14, 2008) — Michelin North America Inc. has developed a lunar wheel for the next generation of NASA moon rover vehicles, based on the firm's Tweel non-pneumatic integrated tire/wheel structure.
The structurally supported tire/wheel assembly was developed jointly at Michelin research centers in North America and Europe, Michelin said. It will fit the Scarab Rover, a lunar robot designed by Carnegie Mellon University, in cooperation with NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program.
Michelin said the lunar wheel maintains flexibility and constant ground contact pressure that enables moon rovers to traverse loose soil and lunar craters. It has a low mass yet maintains a high load capacity that is 3.3 times more efficient than the original Apollo Lunar Rover wheels, the company said.
The tire maker also has developed a lunar wheel for the Athlete Rover, a six-limbed lunar rover capable of transporting cargo over any terrain to aid NASA in the assembly of the lunar outpost.