Eventually man will go back to the Moon and will need a way to travel in style. Goodyear and NASA has just unveiled the tire that will help with that. The Apollo astronauts used basic lunar rovers to explore a small part of the Moon’s surface, but the current NASA plan is to sightsee a whole lot more. Because of the added distance, the original wire-type tire used in the 70’s will not work. The new tire developed by Goodyear is designed to hold much more weight and withstand the abuse of a multi-thousand kilometer journey.
Fundamentally both the old and new tire are similar. Both utilize a wire mesh surface that can hold up very well in extreme temperatures unlike rubber. But the first generation used a weave of wires, where the new one is made up from springs hand-woven together. This new design allows for nearly all the energy expelled on the tire to be reclaimed, which dramatically cuts down on heat. Plus the springs are durable and and redundant if damaged, as there are 800 of them within each tire.
The Goodyear and NASA team had to go back reconstruct the Apollo tires with help from the original designers as most of the documentations was reportably destroyed thanks to the Cold War mentality. But once the old tires were remade, the team set out to design the next generation. Unlike the older ones, these new tires can sport a snazzy five-star rim because each wheel doesn’t have an electric engine within each wheel.
NASA was so impressed with the new tires that the agency took it as a show and tell item to the recent “Day on the Hill” event in Washington. Who knows, maybe someday Goodyear will find a way to incorporate the design into tires that can be used here on Earth.