NASA offers space shuttle tires as motivational tools

If your organization needs a boost or perhaps you want to play up the space program NASA has the perfect prop for you: space shuttle tires.  Actually you can have the whole main landing gear if you want. 

It’s all part of NASA’s artifact loan program where organizations can borrow NASA artifacts for education and outreach purposes. The first artifacts available are main landing gear tires from space shuttles.

The space shuttle tires, including 30 that have flown on missions, are available to organizations that NASA determines best meet the agency's education and public outreach goals.  The long-term loan of these tires may be used to educate, inspire or inform the public about NASA's scientific and technological achievements through art, sculpture, furniture, building structures, exhibits or other innovative uses of the artifacts.

Space shuttle tires are made by Michelin and weight about 205 lbs, so you’ll need a strong place upon which the display would rest. Michelin notes that the tires are filled with nitrogen (as are most aircraft tires) due to its stability at different altitudes and temperatures. Due to the extremely heavy loads these bias ply tires are inflated to 340 psi (main gear) and 300 psi (nose gear).

Being a government agency there are naturally RULES for loaning artifacts and penalties for not following them.  For example, organizations requesting tires must abide by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions placed on the tires. The space shuttle landing gear tires fall under the purview of the US Munitions List (USML) and are export controlled, NASA said. The space shuttle landing gear tires shall not be transferred to foreign nationals, in the U.S. or abroad, or exported out of the United States, without specific approval of a knowledgeable NASA export control official, and/or unless an export license or license exemption is obtained or available from the United States Department of State, NASA states on its Web site.

The tires listed in this Artifact Loan Opportunity remain government property and must follow all applicable rules regarding the loan of government property and government-furnished equipment. The organization must also show proof of insurance for this government-furnished equipment in the amount of retail value of the property in case of loss ($250.00 per tire), NASA said.

Artifacts are loaned typically for three years, renewable for additional three-year terms, NASA said. Should you want a tire or any thing else though NASA anticipates a rush, so you need to request your space shuttle parts by Wednesday, June 11, 2008.

NASA offers a variety of other artifacts for loan.  For example, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center loans a variety of traveling exhibits as well as lunar rock and meteorite samples. Others offer spacecraft models, spacesuits, artwork, rockets and documents for public use. 

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