The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will return to the Moon through a new collaboration with General Motors and Lockheed Martin.
The automaker and defense giant are currently developing a lunar mobility vehicle that will be used to transport astronauts in NASA's Artemis program and cargo around the lunar surface. The vehicle will be powered by GM's Ultium EV platform and designed with autonomous driving capability.
The vehicle will leverage Goodyear's advanced airless tire technology to support lunar mobility and withstand the challenging conditions on the Moon.
Goodyear is currently testing its tires in lunar soil test beds.
An advanced driver-in-the-loop simulator previously used in the development of the GMC Hummer EV pickup and Chevrolet Corvette will give engineers insight into how a rover and its advanced tires work in one-sixth gravity on a rough, crater-pocked lunar terrain.
"Everything we learn from making tires for this extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tires on Earth," Goodyear chief technology officer Chris Helsel said in a statement. "This will contribute to our end goal of enabling mobility no matter where it takes place."
Goodyear will supply tires for General Motors and Lockheed Martin's lunar mobility vehicle. (Goodyear)
Goodyear first collaborated with NASA in 1960 through the Lunar Tire program.
In 1966, Goodyear presented NASA with the first airless production tire for the agency's Surveyor program. In 1969, the company supplied the agency's Apollo 11 mission with tires, brakes and flotation bags. Apollo's lunar rovers were designed for just a few days of use for excursions within five miles of their landing sites.
Goodyear notes that future missions will require tires that can traverse rugged terrain over much longer distances while operating in greater temperature extremes ranging between minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit and 260 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to Goodyear, the lunar mobility vehicle will be sent to the Moon's surface in time to support Artemis' first landed mission. The mission, which is currently planned for 2025, will see the first woman and first person of color walk on the Moon.