Being at the forefront of technology is part of NASA’s brief and reaching for the stars involves utilising new technologies to actualize the dream of human habitation on the Red Planet.
NASA awarded three teams a total of US$40,000 in the first stage of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition at the New York Maker Faire in late September. The design competition challenged participants to develop architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities 3D printing offers to imagine what habitats on Mars might look like using this technology and in-situ resources. Utilising materials on Mars is an important facet of imaging and creating these designs in the future.
The competition is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges programme and is managed by America Makes, a partnership of organisations focused on accelerating capabilities and adoption of additive manufacturing technology.
More than 165 submissions were received, and the 30 highest-scoring entries were judged, displayed at the Maker Faire event. The first-place award of US$25,000 went to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for their design, Mars Ice House. Second place and US$15,000 was awarded to Team Gamma. Third place was awarded to Team LavaHive.
“The creativity and depth of the designs we’ve seen have impressed us,” says Centennial Challenges programme manager Monsi Roman. “These teams were not only imaginative and artistic with their entries, but they also really took into account the life-dependent functionality our future space explorers will need in an off-Earth habitat.”
Teams were judged on many factors, including architectural concept, design approach, habitability, innovation, functionality, Mars site selection and 3D print constructability. The design competition is the first milestone of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, which seeks to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials, in space and on Earth.
NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program is part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The program is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Second place was awarded to Team Gamma for their habitat design