Michelin Teams With NASA On Lunar Rover for Inaugural Parade

January 20, 2009

Michelin technology provides astronauts with a smooth ride up Pennsylvania Avenue for 56th presidential inauguration celebration

GREENVILLE, SC – January 20, 2009 – Michelin North America will once again team with NASA to showcase the latest technology for the next generation of moon rover vehicles. NASA astronauts will pilot the Small Pressurized Lunar Rover, which is fitted with a specially engineered MICHELIN TWEEL(R) assembly, during today’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.

Michelin and NASA have a long history of successful collaboration. For more than 20 years, Michelin has supplied tires for the space shuttle. Over the past three years, we have also worked with NASA to develop a revolutionary tire/wheel assembly for the next generation of lunar rovers, said David Stafford, chief operating officer of Michelin Americas Research Company. We are pleased that NASA, one of the world’s most demanding customers, has selected Michelin to accompany them as millions see this amazing vehicle showcased for the first time.

src=img/lunar.2.jpgThe Small Pressurized Lunar Rover, NASA’s latest lunar rover prototype, will roll from the U.S. Capitol to the White House on the MICHELIN TWEEL(R) non-pneumatic tire/wheel assembly, which was named one of Time magazine’s innovations of the year in 2005. As a result of this engineering breakthrough, NASA helped fund a project for Michelin to develop a highly specialized Lunar Wheel for the space agency’s latest collection of moon rover vehicles.

Introduced in 2008, the MICHELIN Lunar Wheel withstands extreme conditions while maintaining flexibility and constant ground contact pressure that enables moon rovers to traverse loose soil and lunar craters. It also has a low mass yet maintains a high load capacity that is 3.3 times more efficient than the original Apollo Lunar Rover wheels.

Field data taken last November demonstrated that the MICHELIN Lunar Wheel provides a 50 percent improvement in rolling efficiency over loose soil, compared to a traditional inflated tire, said Dr. Rob Ambrose, Surface Mobility Lead for NASA’s Lunar Architecture Team. Michelin met or exceeded our targets in analog lunar testing.

Designed to provide astronauts with mobility over extreme terrain, the Small Pressurized Lunar Rover features 12 wheels driven by two electric motors through a two-speed transmission, allowing it to perform in bulldozer mode with up to 4000 pounds of force or cruise at up to 20 kilometers per hour. The modular design also means that the tubular frame can be fitted with several different crew and payload combinations, including the crew cabin that attaches to the rover’s chassis to form the Small Pressurized Lunar Rover configuration.

In addition to engineering wheels for the Small Pressurized Lunar Rover, Michelin has developed Lunar Wheels for NASA’s ATHLETE moon rover designed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as for the Scarab moon rover. Both are unmanned lunar vehicles designed to perform various tasks on the moon.

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelin-us.com) employs more than 22,300 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 17 locations.