CLEVELAND (Aug. 4, 2009)—Goodyear and NASA said they have developed an airless tire to transport large, long-range vehicles across the surface of the moon.
The new “Spring Tire” with 800 load-bearing springs is designed to carry heavier vehicles over greater distances than the wire mesh tire previously used on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, Goodyear and NASA said. The tire “will allow for broader exploration and the eventual development and maintenance of a lunar outpost,” according to the company and the space agency.
“With the combined requirements of increased load and life, we needed to make a fundamental change to the original moon tire,” said Vivake Asnani, NASA's principal investigator at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. “What the Goodyear-NASA team developed is an innovative, yet simple network of interwoven springs that does the job.”
The tire was installed on NASA's Lunar Electric Rover test vehicle and was tested successfully at the Johnson Space Center “Rock Yard” in Houston, where NASA said it performed successfully.
Air-filled rubber tires cannot be used on the moon's surface because of the extreme variations in temperature, and because the conditions would degrade rubber.