Finalists Revealed for NASA Mars Habitat
NASA, working in collaboration with partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, recently announced the finalists of the third phase of the agency’s 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge, which focused on creating livable homes for explorers on Mars.
A pot of $100,000 was divvied up between the finalists based on scores assigned by a panel of judges. Each team had to design viable 3D models of their proposed habitats, using Building Information Modeling software. The last step of this final phase will see the announcement of a winner for a $2 million prize.
Each of the habitats had to have at least 1,000 square feet of space for residents to live in for a year, while also accommodating machinery and other necessities. The structures must also be autonomously assembled. Judging criteria included completeness, layout, aesthetics and viability of 3D printing..
Team Zopherus, of Rogers, Arkansas, winning $20,957.95, developed a design that would be deployed from inside a large lander. The lander itself is equipped with a high-strength printing mix that will shore up the Martian concrete that will be used in the rest of the structure. When the essentials, such as air locks, are printed, it moves and continues with creating a number of small rooms.
Though Zopherus took first place, AI. SpaceFactory, of New York City, took a close second place winning $20,957.24. SpaceFactory designed a vertical cylinder, focusing on accommodations for thermal expansion and insulation, citing the fact that the cylinder is the most efficient use of space and best suited for 3D printing.
Kahn-Yates, of Jackson, Mississippi, winning $20,622.74, created a plan for a shelter that featured a printed structural layer that gives way to a high-strength plastic layer, allowing natural light to filter into the space.
SEArch+/Apis Cor, of New York City, receiving $19,580.97, sought to both maximize light and minimize radiation exposure in its design, which also features two separate pressurized areas and was planned using a sloped site to account for different possible locations.
Northwestern University, of Evanston, Illinois, winning $17,881.10, designed an inflatable vessel that will serve as a base for the printer, which will produce a dome with crossbeams, resulting in a practical design.
“We are thrilled to see the success of this diverse group of teams that have approached this competition in their own unique styles,” said Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA’s Centennial Challenges.
“They are not just designing structures, they are designing habitats that will allow our space explorers to live and work on other planets. We are excited to see their designs come to life as the competition moves forward.”
The first phase of the 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge, the Design Competition held in 2015, had teams submit architectural renderings. Phase 2, the Structural Member Competition, shifted focus to material technologies and structural components.