Ever since the Apollo 11 mission marked the first time humans landed and stepped foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, people wondered why we haven’t gone back. However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirms plans to return by 2025. Goodyear announces it will develop a cutting-edge airless tire for the new lunar rover.

The manufacturer reveals that it will work alongside General Motors and Lockheed Martin for this thrilling endeavor. The trio will design and build a mobility platform astronauts will use on the lunar surface. We all know by now that the extreme conditions there can easily damage materials like rubber. Thus, they need to come up with a highly robust alternative.

Given the significance of the upcoming Artemis moon landing mission, all equipment should perform without a hitch. As such, testing is already ongoing for some of NASA’s partners. Goodyear notes that lunar rovers in the past were expected to remain functional for only a few days. This time, parameters require exceptional durability.

It needs to handle exposure to temperature fluctuations. Depending on the moon’s day/night cycle, it can hit as high as 248 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as -238 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. Goodyear is taking cues from its existing airless tires and reworking these for use on the moon. The vehicle in question is also capable of remote operation in addition to being driven by astronauts.

“Everything we learn from making tyres for the Moon’s extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tyres on Earth,” according to Chris Helsel — Goodyear’s senior vice president, global operations and chief technology officer. If all goes according to plan, the lunar vehicle could become a commercially available model.

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Images courtesy of Goodyear