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Building Technology Shines in NASA Contest

Monday, March 14, 2016

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NASA has awarded three winners a total of $15,000 for developing concepts for a basic need for Mars exploration—building materials.

“Our journey to Mars will require innovations in design and technology; opening our process up to the public gives us more creative paths to follow,” said Steve Rader, deputy manager of NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI).

Mars
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Using native materials for construction is tremendously beneficial for space exploration because in-situ regolith utilization (ISRU) reduces the need for materials to be shipped from Earth, along with the expense and resources this requires, according to NASA.

The In-Situ Challenge, managed for NASA by NineSigma, launched in October 2015. It sought solutions using surface materials like regolith—crushed basalt rock—for Earth and space fabrication and construction applications.

3 Winners Announced

The following were named winners for the In Situ Challenge:

  • 1st place: Planetary Fabrication of Complex Metallic/Ceramic Objects with In-Situ Resources—Behrokh Khoshnevis
  • 2nd place: Cold Spray Technology Applied to Building and Repair—David Espinosa and David Orlebeke
  • 2nd place: Simultaneous Exhaust-Enabled Ore Reduction, Separation and Processing—Patrick Donovan

The first-place winner received $10,000 and the two second-place winners received $2,500 each for their submissions, according to NASA.

Additional information about the entries was not immediately available Friday (March 11).

Important Mission

Using native materials for construction is tremendously beneficial for space exploration because in-situ regolith utilization (ISRU) reduces the need for materials to be shipped from Earth, along with the expense and resources this requires, according to NASA.

ISRU could potentially save the agency more than $100,000 per kilogram to launch, making space pioneering more cost-effective and feasible.

3D Housing Contest

This was the second recent contest the agency launched related to building on Mars.

Last fall, NASA awarded three teams a total of $40,000 in a competition that challenged participants to develop architectural concepts that take advantage of 3D printing capabilities to imagine what housing on Mars might look like.

   

Tagged categories: Building materials; Building science; Color + Design; Contests; North America; Research

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/14/2016, 8:48 AM)

Oh, SLS launches are quite likely to cost more than $100,000 per kg to Mars.


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