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NASA Holds 3D Printed Habitat Design Contest

Business Insider reports on another NASA contest attempting to discover the best 3D printed habitat design for Mars exploration.  The ‘3D Printed Habitat Challenge’ finally revealed a winner, following four years of competition.

The goal of this contest was to find out the best 3D printable habitat for sheltering humans on Mars.  “The winning design, known as Marsha, features vertical pods whose outer shells are made from materials naturally found on the red planet.  The pods also feature hatches capable of deploying space suits and a docking port for a Mars Exploration Rover.”  These pods can also be 3D printed in 30 hours.

The team who designed Marsha, AI SpaceFactory, was awarded $500,000.  Marsha, which is for now a prototype, “will soon be recycled into a real-life habitat on Earth.”

Marsha features vertical pods “which mimic Earth’s natural lighting, while offering a peek at their surroundings.  The pod windows can shield inhabitants from solar radiation.  The exterior of these pods consist of double-coated shells, which keep the internal temperature consistent.  AI SpaceFactory refers to the prototype as ‘a tiny bubble of Earth.’  The design features a garden, kitchen, and a room for exercise and recreation.  For the final round of the competition, the design was printed before a live audience in just 30 hours.  An industrial robot was raised by a forklift to print the 15-foot habitat, which contains around 550 layers of material.”

NASA explained they chose this specific design because, while “other teams designed low-lying domes, AI SpaceFactory’s vertical pods are better suited to handle the atmospheric pressure on Mars.  By printing vertically, the company can keep its industrial robot in one place instead of making it roam across terrain.”

AI SpaceFactory’s Founder and CEO David Malott concludes: “we developed these technologies for space, but they have the potential to transform the way we build on Earth.  By using natural, biodegradable materials grown from crops, we could eliminate the building industry’s massive waste.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of NASA, AI SpaceFactory, and Business Insider

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