Created from a 1/16th model of a German World War II tank, the Tire Assault Vehicle (TAV) was an important safety feature for the Convair 990 Landing System Research Aircraft, which tested Space Shuttle tires. It was imperative to know the extreme conditions the shuttle tires could tolerate at landing without putting the shuttle and its crew at risk. In addition, the CV-990 was able to land repeatedly to test the tires.
The TAV was built from a kit and modified into a radio-controlled, video-equipped machine to drill holes in aircraft test tires that were in imminent danger of exploding because of one or more conditions: high air pressure, high temperatures, and cord wear.
An exploding test tire releases energy equivalent to two and one-half sticks of dynamite and can cause severe injuries to anyone within 50 ft. of the explosion, as well as ear injury — possibly permanent hearing loss — to anyone within 100 ft. The degree of danger is also determined by the temperature pressure and cord wear of a test tire.
The TAV was developed by David Carrott, a PRC employee under contract to NASA.July 27, 1995NASA Photo / Dennis Taylor› Read LSRA Project Description