Lessons from Earth, applied on Moon: Goodyear tyres aim to conquer lunar land

  • Lockheed Martin is developing special lunar vehicles for NASA and Goodyear is working on advanced tyres that could make the improbable possible.
Lunar tyres have to not just operate in low gravity but navigate through terrain unlike any on Earth. Then there is the factor of extreme temperature variations.  
Lunar tyres have to not just operate in low gravity but navigate through terrain unlike any on Earth. Then there is the factor of extreme temperature variations.  

Goodyear has been associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA for decades and was an essential supplier during the Apollo program which included the Apollo 11 mission that landed on Moon 53 years ago. Times may have evolved but Goodyear's ambitions to look beyond our world remains firm and the company has joined forces with Lockheed Martin to develop new-age lunar mobility vehicles with tyres that are far more capable of tackling the crater-filled, low-gravity surface.

Driving a lunar vehicle on the surface of the Moon is obviously challenging. Extreme temperatures, deep craters and gravity that is one-sixth of what it is here on Earth makes mobility an outwardly challenge. But Goodyear claims it is banking on its advanced airless tire technology used on Earth with micro-mobility, autonomous shuttles and passenger vehicles, to advance lunar mobility and withstand the challenging conditions on the Moon.

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While Lockheed Martin develops lunar vehicles for NASA, the tyres would come from Goodyear, a company that not only wants to apply lessons learnt on Earth to the Moon but also enhance the technology for lunar vehicle tyres and adapt these for our planet. “Everything we learn from making tyres for the Moon’s extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tyres 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."

But it is not just about having lunar vehicle tyres that can provide some form of stable drive to astronauts. Unlike ever before, the future vehicles on Moon would need to travel significantly further distances and the tyres, therefore, need to also address the durability factor. With temperature changes ranging between 120 degree Celsius to minus 120 degree Celsius, the demand on the lunar vehicle tyres would be enormous.

With NASA looking to have a landed mission on Moon in 2025, the timelines are clearly cut out. And while the challenges may be enormous, Goodyear and Lockheed Martin appear determined to rise to the occasion.

First Published Date: 27 Jul 2022, 10:24 AM IST
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