Fifty Years After Going to the Moon, Goodyear Looks to Space to Enhance Tire Performance

July 12, 2019

AKRON, Ohio, July 12, 2019 – The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is reaching for the stars again to enhance tire performance by testing components in space as part of a project launching this month to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

With an expected launch on July 21, the SpaceX CRS-18 will head to the ISS with a Goodyear experiment onboard. In the microgravity environment of the space station, Goodyear will study the formation of silica particles, a common material used in consumer tires. By gathering knowledge from this evaluation, Goodyear engineers and scientists can determine if unique forms of precipitated silica might be considered in tires to enhance performance.

“Goodyear quite literally has gone to the moon and back to take tire performance to new levels for consumers,” said Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s chief technology officer. “Space exploration has served as inspiration for so much innovation, and we at Goodyear are proud of our legacy of participation, which continues with this upcoming experiment in microgravity.”

In July 1969, Goodyear supplied essential products for the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Goodyear brakes helped the missiles move into place on the launch pads; a Goodyear “purge and conditioning” system helped the engines circulate nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen; the window frame of the command module was Goodyear-manufactured, as was the panel on which the landing instruments were mounted.

When Apollo 11 splashed down into the ocean upon its return to Earth, the capsule was kept upright by Goodyear-made flotation bags, so the astronauts could crawl into recovery rafts. Later Apollo astronauts used a cart to carry photo equipment, digging tools and 35 bags they filled with lunar rock; and the 16-inch tires on the cart were the result of a development project upon which hundreds of Goodyear associates had worked.

This year, Goodyear’s in-space evaluation is being conducted through an agreement with the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, which works in cooperative agreement with NASA to fully utilize the orbiting laboratory with innovative science and technology demonstrations capable of benefitting life on Earth.

Astronauts aboard the ISS will conduct the Goodyear-prepared silica experiment while Goodyear scientists will simultaneously carry out the same experiment in the company’s labs, allowing a comparison when the space research results – frozen for the journey back to Earth – are studied later.

To learn more about the on-orbit capabilities of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, including past research initiatives and available facilities, visit www.spacestationresearch.com.

About Goodyear: Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs about 64,000 people and manufactures its products in 47 facilities in 21 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.

About the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation's newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.