Goodyear to produce airless tires for Moon rovers of Artemis program
Goodyear rolled up its sleeves to produce lunar vehicle tires in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and General Motors.
The project is expected to be ready in 2025.
The companies hope to be the first to establish long-term commercial vehicle operations on the Moon. Goodyear offers its vast expertise in tires, a mission-critical component for traversing the lunar surface.
The project will take place within NASA's Artemis program. Goodyear also took part in the Apollo 11 project 53 years ago.
“NASA’s Artemis program to live and work on the Moon has a clear need for lunar surface transportation that we intend to meet with vehicles driven by astronauts or operated autonomously without crew,” said Kirk Shireman, vice president of Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin.
“We’re developing this new generation of lunar mobility vehicle to be available to NASA and for commercial companies and even other space agencies to support science and human exploration. This approach exemplifies NASA’s desire for the industry to take the lead with commercial efforts that enable the agency to be one of many customers.”
To increase lunar mobility and endure the harsh circumstances on the Moon, Goodyear is utilizing its highly developed airless tire technology, which is now employed on Earth with micro-mobility, autonomous shuttles, and passenger vehicles.
“Everything we learn from making tires for the Moon’s extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tires on Earth,” said Chris Helsel, senior vice president, Global Operations and Chief Technology Officer at Goodyear.
“This will contribute to our end goal of enabling mobility no matter where it takes place. Just as important, it is an honor to write history with this prestigious company that knows how to make giant leaps in exploration and mobility.”
From - 250 °F to 250 °F
As Goodyear stated, the Apollo lunar rovers were designed to be used for only a few days on excursions within five miles of their landing sites. Future missions will be planned to traverse rugged terrain over much longer distances while operating in more extreme temperatures.
New tire capabilities will be required for years of durability and even survival in temperatures as low as -250 degrees Fahrenheit (-150 degrees Celsius) at night and as high as (121 degrees Celsius) 250 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
50-year-history of working with NASA
Besides Goodyear, Maryland-based company Lockheed Martin also has more than 50 years of experience with NASA including including as the Orion exploration-class spaceship for Artemis and several Mars planetary spacecraft.
The firm will also oversee the program's commercial business activities' development and coordination with NASA and other international space organizations. Additionally, Lockheed Martin continues to develop new technologies for upcoming space missions while assisting NASA in exploring every planet in our solar system.
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