GREENVILLE, S.C. (July 21, 2011) — The space shuttle Atlantis touched down for the last time today, landing once again on MICHELIN® tires. Michelin has been manufacturing the space shuttle tires at its Norwood, N.C., aviation tire plant.
“It was a proud moment for Michelin and NASA to watch the close of the space shuttle era,” said Ron Olds, vice president of sales for Michelin Aircraft Tires. “The final landing closed a 30-year chapter in American history that showcased some of the greatest technological advancements spurred on by the American spirit. Every aspect of the shuttle program — down to the tires designed to dependably return the spacecraft safely to earth — is a tribute to the American ‘can do’ attitude.”
The tires for the space shuttle undergo extreme conditions — from landing at speeds up to 288 mph to carrying loads as much as three times that of a Boeing 747 tire, which is the equivalent of a 40-car starting line-up at a NASCAR race.
The tires weigh approximately 230 pounds and each tire takes approximately six hours to build. The space shuttle takes six tires — four main-landing gear and two nose-landing gear tires — to land. The shuttle tires are inflated up to 373 psi and use nitrogen, which best maintains pressure in varying altitudes and extreme temperatures.
Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.airmichelin.com) employs more than 21,400 and operates 18 major manufacturing plants in 16 locations.