Goodyear and NASA Successfully Recreate Original Moon Tyre
Goodyear and NASA recently completed a joint project to remanufacture twelve copies of the original wire-mesh moon tyre used on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle in the early 1970s. The team had to reverse engineer the moon tyre by examining old archives about the original wire-mesh moon tyre as well as create new techniques to remanufacture the unique non-pneumatic tyre.
The team corresponded with two retired members of the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle team, who each had a tyre given to them as a souvenir for their work. Vivake Asnani, NASA’s principal researcher said the original moon tyres were studied and were used as primary reference for judging the quality of the replicate tyres.
The tyre and wheel design is made up of four components: mesh, tread, inner-frame, and hub. The mesh is made from woven piano wire and the tread is a layer of metal strips intended to shield the mesh from impact while providing a larger foot print for the tyre for floatation in soft soil. There is an inner-frame that’s a rigid metal structure preventing the mesh from over-deforming during impact, while the hub houses the mesh and inner-frame together while connecting the assembly to the rover.
Twelve replicate tyres were evaluated fro geometry, stiffness and other performance factors, and matched up with data from the two antique moon tyres as well as the limited archive info from the 60s. Asnani said "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 tire." The project is also part of preparations for future missions to the moon and to Mars.