Of the tires used for vehicles in the world, spacecraft tires are the most difficult to develop, produce, and are also the most dangerous. With many types of oversized vehicle tires, there is a high potential risk of putting people standing next to them in danger should a blowout or mistake in changing a tire occur.
For example, in a tire of a large truck/container, when it bursts suddenly, the high pressure air in the tire can expand and blow the person next to it several meters away.
Spaceship tires with huge pressure inside and heavy weight are many times more dangerous. For example, with the Advanced Space Shuttle spacecraft (1993), each tire provided by Michelin weighed approximately 105 kg, and had internal pressures up to 373 psi (cars typically have tire pressures of only 30 to 35 psi). It happens).
With the above parameters, a spacecraft tire explosion could release energy equivalent to 2.5 sticks of dynamite. Such an explosion can damage the hearing of people within a radius of 15 meters, cause serious injury or even death.
Spacecraft tires are like a “slow-burning bomb”, whether they land successfully or unsuccessfully, so they require special care.
Yet taking an example from the Space Shuttle above, this ship weighs approximately 109 tons and descends at a speed of 463 km/h. After the above landing procedure, the tires used by the spacecraft came into unstable condition and replacing or removing them became extremely dangerous for the astronauts.
For this reason, NASA had to create a special robot that could only be used to explode or remove the upper tire.
Initially, NASA planned to use bomb disposal robots to puncture tires. But each robot of this type is very expensive, difficult to control and cannot operate on many terrains. NASA was in a difficult situation until one of their engineers, David Carrott, came up with an interesting solution after consulting toy catalogues.
Specifically, they found that they could develop their own mini tank model to perform the above dangerous task. As a result, the finished product called TAV (Tire Assault Vehicle) was born. This is a model tank application for designing a remote control toy tank called Tamiya Tiger II.
However, the TAV uses a body adapted from metal and several other components by NASA. The organization also added a small camera next to the battery-powered drill to help them easily control it remotely. The use of crawlers helps the TAV to move easily on the surfaces of other planets.
The total cost of this type of robot is only 3,000 USD, while the original bomb disposal robot solution is 30 times more expensive (100,000 USD). However, the results achieved by NASA were satisfactory when the TAV helped them deal with 9 spacecraft tires in its lifetime.
Just the fact that the car “survived” 9 tire explosions, which could have killed people within a radius of 15 meters, is a huge achievement proving NASA’s technological capabilities.
Now, the TAV is still serving NASA, but in a glass display frame at the NASA Research Center in Armstrong, USA.