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Goodyear joins Lockheed Martin to develop lunar mobility vehicle

22nd August 2022

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Company will join Lockheed Martin in its development of a lunar mobility vehicle, with the tyre manufacturer to focus on the vehicle’s tyres.

Goodyear supplied essential products for the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa’s)Apollo programme, including the Apollo 11 mission, which landed on the Moon 53 years ago.

Since Apollo, Goodyear has continued working alongside Nasa to advance designs for a lunar vehicle tyre. 

The new partnership intends to be the first to establish extended-use commercial vehicle operations on the Moon. 

“Nasa’s Artemis programme to live and work on the Moon has a clear need for lunar surface transportation, [which] we intend to meet with vehicles driven by astronauts, or operated autonomously without crew,” says Lockheed Martin lunar exploration campaigns VP Kirk Shireman

“We’re developing this new generation of lunar mobility vehicle to be available to Nasa and for commercial companies and even other space agencies to support science and human exploration.”

Goodyear is drawing from its new airless tyre technology used on Earth in micro-mobility, autonomous shuttle and passenger vehicle applications, in order to withstand the challenging conditions on the Moon. 

“Everything we learn from making tyres for the Moon’s extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tyres on Earth,” says Goodyear CTO Chris Helsel

“This will contribute to our end-goal of enabling mobility no matter where it takes place.”

The Apollo lunar rovers were purposely built for just a few days of use on excursions within five miles of their landing sites. 

Future Moon missions will, however, need to traverse rugged terrain over much longer distances, while operating in greater temperature extremes. 

New tyre capabilities will need to be developed for years of durability and even survive the night that sees temperatures of below –155 ˚C, and daytime temperatures of more than 121 ˚C.

The companies expect to have their first vehicle on the surface of the Moon in time to support Nasa’s first landed mission that will have the first woman and first person of colour walk on the Moon, currently planned for 2025.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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