Goodyear and NASA Invent Spring Tire for Moon

AKRON, OHIO, August 3, 2009 – The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company have
developed an airless tire to transport large, long-range vehicles
across the surface of the moon.

The new "Spring Tire" with 800 load bearing springs is designed to
carry much heavier vehicles over much greater distances than the wire
mesh tire previously used on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV).
The new tire will allow for broader exploration and the eventual
development and maintenance of a lunar outpost.

According to Vivake Asnani, NASA’s principal investigator at the Glenn
Research Center in Cleveland, this was a significant change in
requirements that required innovation. "With the combined requirements
of increased load and life, we needed to make a fundamental change to
the original moon tire," he said. "What the Goodyear-NASA team
developed is an innovative, yet simple network of interwoven springs
that does the job. The tire design seems almost obvious in retrospect,
as most good inventions do."

The Spring Tire was installed on NASA’s Lunar Electric Rover test
vehicle and put through its paces at the Johnson Space Center’s "Rock
Yard" in Houston where it performed successfully.

"This tire is extremely durable and extremely energy efficient," noted
Jim Benzing, Goodyear’s lead innovator on the project. "The spring
design contours to the surface on which it’s driven to provide
traction. But all of the energy used to deform the tire is returned
when the springs rebound. It doesn’t generate heat like a normal tire.

According to Goodyear engineers, development of the original Apollo
lunar mission tires, and the new Spring Tire were driven by the fact
that traditional rubber, pneumatic (air-filled) tires used on Earth
have little utility on 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.
Furthermore, unfiltered solar radiation degrades rubber, and pneumatic
tires pose an unacceptable risk of deflation.