Bridgestone, one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers, is heading into space. Headquartered in Tokyo, the company joins Toyota and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in moon exploration.
Bridgestone’s involvement makes perfect sense. We have specialized tires for terrains and conditions here on earth, such as snow, off road, racetrack and city streets. In fact, Goodyear has concepted very cool, dual-purpose tires for flying cars. They would drive over traditional terrain and then convert to propellers for takeoff. Check them out here.
A different surface and environment altogether, the moon demands its own tires. Plus, the manned rover road-tripping up there is a completely different vehicle. Bridgestone’s mission, which they chose to accept, is to research performance needs for tires on manned, pressured rovers so they’ll firmly grip that cratered “road”.
Tires For Your Space Prius
Many have imagined traveling to the moon. David Bowie sings in his song Moonage Daydream, “Press your space face close to mine, love.” And, as the earth creeps towards maximum human capacity, we need alternate places to live. The moon is just one possibility, Mars another. With the SpaceX program, Elon Musk is planning to reach Mars and start a colony.
Bridgestone’s knowledge in tire technology will be an important factor in preparing us to inhabit the moon. They already had a previous relationship with Toyota and JAXA, established in the 2000s. Serving as a technical partner for Toyota, they examined a contact patch between rovers and the moon’s surface. This experience will help inform the development of an Elastic Wheel to support the rover’s weight, acceleration and braking, minimize shock absorption and improve maneuverability, enabling the lunar electric car to cruise more than 621 miles on the moon’s surface.
When we finally live on the moon, and I believe we will, Bridgestone plans to help us travel around there too. Prepare to have the same reaction in reality as Bowie does in his song to “freak out in a Moonage Daydream, oh yea!”