NASA Plans Robots to Build on Mars
With building on Mars becoming more of a reality, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to use 3-D printing robots to create homes for future astronauts on different planets—but first, the agency needs ideas for construction materials.
NASA's 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge put out a call for ideas for the fabrication of habitats, geared toward being built on the moon, Mars and wherever interplanetary exploration goes. The challenge lies in what materials to use for the 3-D printing process, as the materials cannot be carried on the spaceship into orbit.
According to NASA, the goal is for autonomous machines to eventually be sent to the moon, Mars and elsewhere to build homes for future astronauts to reside in.
Recycling & native resources may be key to future exploring of space. We seek your ideas in a $2 million competition https://t.co/RBtI3X1fHC pic.twitter.com/CCscAOaOPy— NASA (@NASA) November 11, 2017
“You send a robot construction team out there first. You turn ’em loose, and a year or two later, there’s a home waiting for the astronauts to arrive,” Peter Carrato, a member of the NASA Centennial Challenge Committee, told Houston Public Media.
On Earth, the same technology could be used in areas with limited access to resources and the appropriate building skills.
In order to make this feasible, the materials the 3-D printing robots would use would have to be indigenous, which may include recycled materials from the astronauts themselves.
NASA Centennial Challenge
The call for technologies that would create these shelters for astronauts is part of the third phase of the Centennial Challenge, with prior phases completed in September of 2015 and August 2017, respectively.
Phase one—Design Competition—called for participants to develop architectural concepts for the challenge of living on Mars. Phase two—Structural Member Competition—covered the manufacturing of structural components.
In the current phase, competitors must fabricate sub-scale habitats using indigenous materials, which can include mission-generated recyclables. This phase has five levels of competition, with a $2 million prize up for grabs.
Interested teams may register through Feb. 15, 2018.
The Centennial Challenges were initiated in 2005 to engage with the public on the development of advanced technology. The program offers prizes for the revolutionary solutions to problems of interest.