Goodyear is working on an off-road tire that is out of this world.
The company is joining General Motors and Lockheed Martin in the development of a new lunar mobility vehicle that will service NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission, returning humans to the Moon and future programs.
Goodyear designed the airless mesh “tires” that were used on the original Lunar Roving Vehicles used during the Apollo era and is further developing the idea.
A Goodyear spokesperson told Fox News Autos that a variety of metal alloy compositions are being developed that can retain their ductile properties at the -250 degrees temperatures that the vehicles will be subjected to, while also being able to hold up to heat above 250 degrees.
“Everything we learn from making tires for the Moon’s extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tires on Earth,” Chris Helsel, senior vice president, Global Operations and Chief Technology Officer at Goodyear, said about the project.
The tires will feature treads that are optimized to provide traction on the lunar regolith and flexible elements tuned to keep the vehicle stable in one-sixth Earth’s gravity.
General Motors and Lockheed Martin are working on a range of vehicles based off of GM’s Ultium electric powertrain that will be equipped with autonomous driving capability and provisions for people and cargo. NASA is not the only entity that will be able to use them either.
General Motors and Lockheed Martin are planning to send them to the lunar surface with or without NASA’s backing and offer them to any mission that visits through a rental program and is designing them to operate for a decade or more with minor maintenance required.
That means the tires will need to hold up a lot longer than the original ones, which only had to cover a few miles during a period of hours across the three Apollo missions that brought Lunar Roving Vehicles along.