On Monday, June 19, 2023, the international Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France witnessed a groundbreaking moment as Venturi Group introduced its latest invention: a hyper-deformable lunar wheel. Designed and manufactured by Venturi Lab using innovative materials, this revolutionary wheel marks a significant milestone in the history of space exploration.

Reinventing the Wheel: Venturi Lab, located in Fribourg, Switzerland, brought together a team of engineers, chemists, and physicists to create the world’s first hyper-deformable lunar wheel. Unlike traditional rigid wheels used in space exploration, the Venturi wheel combines remarkable flexibility with exceptional durability.

The FLEX Rover and Lunar Deployment: The Venturi wheel will find its purpose on the Venturi Astrolab’s FLEX rover, a vehicle scheduled to be deployed on the Moon in 2026 through the collaborative efforts of Venturi and Space X’s Starship rocket. The primary role of the FLEX rover will involve transporting and deploying payloads in the lunar environment.

Unmatched Adaptability: In contrast to previous missions, where rigid wheels were the norm, the Venturi wheel’s hyper-deformable nature allows it to absorb ground irregularities as the FLEX rover navigates the challenging terrain of the lunar south pole. With extreme temperatures ranging from -90 to -230°C, these wheels, supporting the two-tonne vehicle (including payload), will exhibit remarkable warping capabilities while maintaining their longevity and robustness. Designed to endure distances of at least 1,000 kilometers and withstand intense radiation exposure, the Venturi wheels are set to redefine lunar exploration.

Key Features of the Venturi Wheel: The Venturi wheel boasts a diameter of 930mm and incorporates a sophisticated system of 192 cables that act as spokes, enhancing its structural integrity. The tread of the wheel utilizes a groundbreaking flexible material, while the outer rim is equipped with springs, contributing to its unmatched adaptability in challenging lunar conditions. This pioneering technology, relying on unique materials, holds a similar level of significance to the advent of rubber and later pneumatic tires in the 19th century.

NASA’s Involvement: Recognizing the groundbreaking potential of the Venturi wheel, NASA has chosen Venturi Astrolab as a partner to conduct testing and analysis. The Venturi wheel will undergo rigorous examination at the esteemed NASA Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland and the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston, solidifying its credibility and paving the way for future advancements in lunar exploration.

Conclusion: The unveiling of the hyper-deformable lunar wheel by Venturi Group at the Paris Air Show marks a significant breakthrough in space technology. This revolutionary creation promises to redefine the capabilities of space exploration vehicles, enabling them to traverse challenging lunar terrains with ease and durability. With NASA’s endorsement and support, the Venturi wheel represents a pivotal advancement in our quest to explore and understand the wonders of the Moon.

By Impact Lab