Following a request from NASA, Goodyear last year developed an airless tyre designed to transport large, long-range vehicles across the surface of celestial bodies such as the moon or Mars. The tyre, constructed out of 800 load bearing springs, is designed to carry much heavier vehicles (up to 10 times) over much greater distances (up to 100 times) than the wire mesh tire that Goodyear helped develop for the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). The Spring Tyre has now been recognized with a so-called “Oscar of Innovation” at the 44th Annual R&D 100 Awards in Orlando, Florida.
The development of the Spring Tyre, like the original Apollo lunar mission tires, was driven by the fact that traditional rubber, pneumatic tires used on Earth aren’t suited to the moon. This is because rubber properties vary significantly between the extreme cold and hot temperatures experienced in the shaded and directly sunlit areas of the moon.
Additionally, unfiltered solar radiation degrades rubber, posing an unacceptable risk of deflation for traditional pneumatic tires. And with the moon being outside of any roadside assistance service area and moon missions looking to minimize cargo, a spare could be hard to come by.