First of all, no gas stations for millions of miles. Second, strapping a spare to the back of the capsule would look tacky. Lastly, and most importantly given the life and death nature of space travel, blowing out a tire on the red sands of Mars, or even much closer to home on the Moon could spell disaster for a human exploratory crew.
So, with that in mind, NASA and Goodyear set about creating a tire comprised of wire mesh and 800 independent load bearing springs. Made of metal mesh, these tires are immune to traditional tire-popping threats, like heat, cold or sharp objects.
But wait, there’s more!
Says NASA researcher Vivake Asani of these 2010 R&D Award-winning tires:
“[These tires do not have a]single point failure mode. What that means is that a hard impact that might cause a pneumatic tire to puncture and deflate would only damage one of the 800 load bearing springs. Along with having this ultra-redundant characteristic, the tire has a combination of overall stiffness yet flexibility that allows off-road vehicles to travel fast over rough terrain with relatively little motion being transferred to the vehicle.”
Seemingly invincible tires. Just what the cold, uncaring, lifeless expanse of space requires. Now, if only we could get our act together and actually get to the Moon again in the near future. Then we could actually use these magnificent tires! [Slashgear]