GoodYear is making special tires for the Moon.
They are being designed to withstand extreme temperatures, tackle rough terrain and obviously still be functional in the absence of gravity.
The American tire manufacturer began working with Nasa more than 60 years ago and provided the US space agency with tires for various lunar missions including the Apollo 11.
In fact, the company has even bigger plans this time because it has teamed up with Lockheed Martin, a US aerospace and defense contractor, to design the actual vehicles as well.
The vehicles in question are the various Lunar Roving Vehicles (LRV) that NASA uses.
These compact battery-powered vehicles (210 kg) are built to carry a maximum payload that far exceeds their weight.
They serve a very specific purpose and that’s why they’re designed with a pragmatic, form-follows-function approach in mind.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, for starters, the tires – just like the LRVs – are built to maximize both performance and longevity.
And that is a very complicated combination to achieve.
Six missions landed humans on the Moon, so far, beginning with Apollo 11 in July 1969.
The new Moon rovers will look a lot different to the ones we’re used to.
With that said, there will be a lot of similarities too.
Moon rovers are generally deployed for a few days only, and each trip is only six to eight miles.
The biggest challenge for GoodYear is that it has to build the tires today, knowing they will need to be at their optimum when the Moon rover is actually in use.
The tires are sturdy and robust, but also flexible, because they have to perform at -156° C at night and 121° C during daytime.
In Fahrenheit, that is equivalent to -248 F and 249 F, respectively.
So when is the next Moon mission going to happen?
The launch of the Artemis l, an uncrewed Lunar orbital test flight, is scheduled for August 29 and it is going to last between 26 and 42 days.