NASA Names Space Habitat Finalists
The top three finalists for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge were announced just last week (March 28). Taking first place is SEArch+ and Apis Cor, followed by Zopherous (second place) and Mars Incubator (third place).
What might a human habitat on Mars look like? We challenged citizen inventors to imagine life-supporting environments on the Red Planet by creating a full-scale habitat design using modeling software. Three winners were recently selected: https://t.co/ffUmjvDyN4 pic.twitter.com/7Xu4JLU1td— NASA (@NASA) April 1, 2019
The competition is NASA’s latest development in its mission to design suitable shelters with the future hopes of sending humans back to the moon, Mars and hopefully beyond. The challenge, which has three phases, totals $3.2 million in prizes.
3D-Printed Habitat Challenge
The challenge to design these high-tech dwellings started back in 2015 during the Centennial Challenges, which ended in 2017. The first phase of the 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge, the Design Competition, had teams submit architectural renderings. Phase Two, the Structural Member Competition, shifted focus to material technologies and structural components.
In November, just three months after the Centennial Challenges were completed, NASA issued a call for technologies for the fabrication of planetary homes, geared to be built in outer space. The final phase would consist of five levels—three construction levels and two virtual levels.
The challenge—level one of five, within the third phase—would prove to lie in what materials to use for the 3D-printing process, as the materials wouldn’t be able to be carried on the spaceship into orbit. To raise the stakes, Phase Three included a $2 million prize up for grabs and was available for register until February 2018.
In the summer after registrations closed, NASA and collaboration partner Bradley University, located in Peoria, Illinois, announced the five finalists of the Level 1, third phase of the challenge.
What’s Happening Now
During the Level 4 software modeling stage within Phase Three of the competition, 11 teams had been asked to create full-scale renderings of their designs using modeling software and incorporating short explanation videos of their choices.
Taking the win in this level was female-led and owned SEArch+ and Apis Cor (New York). The team was previously victorious in achieving first place in Construction Levels 1 and 2, and fourth place in Virtual Design Level 1.
Runner-up teams Zoperhous and Mars Incubator also showed promise in their designs, which included the idea of a modular structure being printed by an autonomous rover (Zoperhous) and the creation of four distinct spaces, including one for plant growth (Mars).
For this level, the three teams split up a $100,000 prize.
In the next round, slated for early May, finalists will be competing for $800,000 in prize money for the creation of 3D-print scale models of their designs.