By Oliver Hall
French tyres maker Michelin is supplying a specially designed wheel for the next generation of moon rover vehicles
Michelin tyres will roll out the new wheels for NASA which use highly specialised composite materials that will enable lunar vehicles to maintain their mobility under extreme conditions and over harsh terrain.
The Michelin Lunar Wheel is based on the TWEEL assembly and is said to allow the wheel to maintain flexibility and constant ground pressure, gaining traction through loose soil and craters.
The low mass and high payload capacity is believed to be more than three times more efficient than the original Apollo Lunar Rover wheels.
The Michelin Lunar Wheel was tested in Hawaii late last year, where the terrain, rock distribution and soil composition provide a high-quality simulation of the lunar polar region.
Sharp-eyed viewers who watched the inauguration of President Barak Obama may have noticed the wheels debut when astronauts aboard NASA’s latest Small Pressurized Lunar Rover prototype rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on the Michelin non-pneumatic tyre and wheel technology.
Michelin has been supplying space shuttle tyres to NASA for over 20 years