Goodyear has been working with NASA to recreate the tyres used on the original Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle. The replication of the 1970’s tyres was described by the tyre manufacturers as “one small step backward to make one giant leap forward”. The wire-mesh tyres will improve the company’s understanding of non-pneumatic tyre technology. This knowledge will be helpful in the future for use on the moon and here on earth.
There was very little information on record regarding the production of the earlier tyres. The team of engineers studied one of the original tyres, currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. The tyre consists of four elements, mesh – woven from piano wire, tread, inner frame and hub. Once they were finished, the twelve tyres were tested for geometry, stiffness and performance elements. This data was then compared with information drawn from the remaining original tyres. According to Vivake Asnani, NASA’s principal investigator, “The measurements indicate that the original and replicate wire mesh moon tyres have nearly identical mechanical properties. We are now testing the replicates to determine their traction and endurance capabilities. These data will enable NASA and industry to determine possible applications for the wire mesh tyre”. He continued, “There was great synergy in this project, and we are continuing our collaboration to mature this technology”.
The elements learned during the project will have uses in tyre production for earthbound transport, but will also be applied in the production of second generation tyres on future lunar vehicles.