HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Bridgestone Corp. has agreed to work with Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc. on developing a form of a non-pneumatic "elastic wheel" for the crewed lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) Teledyne Brown is designing for NASA.
Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown is one of a three companies competing for the contract to build the LTV that NASA's Artemis lunar missions mission will use on the space agency's plan to establish a lunar colony in the latter half of this decade.
Teledyne Brown, a unit of Teledyne Technologies Inc., is working with Nissan North America Inc., Sierra Space Corp. and Textron Inc. on its design for the LTV, which will allow crews on the lunar missions to navigate unexplored areas on the moon.
The LTV will be expected to endure extreme temperatures and harsh environments over long periods of time to support crew mobility and research efforts, Teledyne Brown said.
NASA's brief for the LTV describes a vehicle capable of carrying two suited crew members, capable of carrying them and 250 kilograms of gear up to 20 kilometers at speeds up to 15 km/h and last up to 10 years in the harsh lunar environment.
NASA did not say when it expects to pick the winning entry for the LTV but did say it needs an operatinal LTV no later than August 2028.
Bridgestone has been researching potential designs for tires for crewed lunar vehicles since 2019. To ensure tire function and safety under difficult operating conditions (rocky and sandy desert with exposure to extreme temperatures and cosmic ray radiation), Bridgestone has chosen to focus on developing and validating metal airless tire concepts.
Bridgestone said it is leveraging its "mastering road contact" technology that is a core-competency acquired from various experiences on roads around the world.
"This partnership helps further solidify the strength of our team and the durable vehicle that will be a product of its collaboration," Scott Hall, president of Teledyne's Engineered Systems Segment, said.
"The experience and reputation of Bridgestone is unparalleled and a tremendous asset for our vehicle in its journey to and on the moon's surface."
Makoto Ishiyama, executive director, next generation technology development, for Bridgestone, called this project is a "bold new challenge for humanity" and said it will help the company fulfill its commitment to "nonstop mobility and innovation" that's part of Bridgestone's E8 corporate strategy commitment.
"Through co-creation with new partners, Bridgestone is dedicated to realizing the dream of humankind with mobility innovation."
The Teledyne Brown LTV program is one of at least three initiatives working on the LTV concept
Others working an LTV concept are a team led by Lockheed Martin and General Motors Co., which includes Goodyear, and a team led by aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. and involving Michelin Group. AVL List G.m.b.H., Intuitive Machines L.L.C. and Lunar Outpost Inc.
Both Goodyear and Michelin are working on non-pneumatic concepts for their respective projects.