NASA names top 5 in latest stage of 3D-printed Mars habitat competition

Team SEArch+/Apis Cor of New York is the fourth-place winner in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, Phase...Team SEArch+/Apis Cor of New York is the fourth-place winner in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, Phase 3: Level 1 competition (Credit: SEArch+/Apis Cor)

NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, which kicked off in 2015, is now well into its third and final phase. The latest stage has awarded five teams a share of US$100,000 in prize money for the best virtual models ahead of the hard part, 3D-printing scale models of their designs.

The multi-phase competition challenges designers and engineers to come up with a Mars habitat that can be swiftly 3D-printed using local materials. Prior phases of the competition concentrated on creative architectural renderings and initial development of material or structural components.

This final phase of the challenge first requires teams to generate realistic 3D models demonstrating the habitats being constructed, before the last stages culminate in the production of an autonomously 3D-printed one-third scale model.

This current virtual model stage has doled out a share of this stage’s US$100,000 prize money to five winning teams. The rules stipulate habitats must have 1,000 square feet (92.9 sq m) of living space with plans for life support, plumbing, etc, to support four astronauts for 12 months.

The digital representations developed at this stage of the competition are presented using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software tools, suggesting a move away from conceptual idealistic designs and focusing more on actual pragmatic realizations.

“We are thrilled to see the success of this diverse group of teams that have approached this competition in their own unique styles,” says 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.”

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