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Planning a Home Way Away from Home

Friday, June 26, 2015

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WASHINGTON--Deep space, once popularly deemed "The Final Frontier," is now the next big residential market, according to NASA.

To that end, the space agency is co-sponsoring a competition with a $2.25 million purse (and out-of-this-world bragging rights) to design and build a 3D-printed habitat intended for deep-space exploration.

NASA / Neil A. Armstrong, Lunar Module commander

The Lunar Module Eagle was sufficient in 1969 for the visit of astronaut Edwin E."Buzz" Aldrin Jr. and his Apollo 11 colleagues, but NASA is seeking longer-term housing for future missions into deep space.

Partnering with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (known as America Makes), NASA is seeking concepts for shelters that astronauts can build or print from dirt and other materials indigenous to the moon and Mars.

Waste materials from the spacecraft are also fair game as building components.

Multi-Phase Competition

The 3D Printed Habitat Challenge was developed to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond, according to NASA.

The first phase calls on participants to develop architectural concepts.

The top 30 submissions will be judged, and prizes totaling $50,000 will be awarded at the 2015 World Maker Faire, set for Sept. 26-27, in New York.

The second phase will unfold in two parts.

The Structural Member Competition (Level 1) focuses on the fabrication of technologies needed to manufacture structural components from either a combination of indigenous materials and recyclables, or indigenous materials alone.

3D challenge

The top 30 design submissions will be judged, and $50,000 in prizes will be awarded Sept. 27.

The Onsite Habitat Competition (Level 2) challenges competitors to fabricate full-scale habitats using indigenous materials.

Both levels open for registration Sept. 26; each carries a $1.1 million prize.

‘Raising the Bar’

“The future possibilities for 3-D printing are inspiring, and the technology is extremely important to deep-space exploration,” said Sam Ortega, program manager of NASA's Centennial Challenge Program.

“This challenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currently capable of, and we are excited to see what the maker community does with it.”

NASA’s Centennial Challenge Program was initiated in 2005 to directly engage the public in the process of advanced technology development.

More information, rules and registration are available here.


Tagged categories: Architects; Building materials; Construction; Designers; NASA; North America; Program/Project Management

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