NASA competition encourages innovation in 3D printing technologies
NASA has issued achallenge to designers aimed at stimulating innovation in 3D printingsolutions that may one day be the key to establishing a permanentpresence on Mars.
Not only is 3D printing set to become the way of the future for construction here on Earth, ii will also be instrumental in establishing a permanentoutpost on another planet.
ESA has already conducted a series ofstudies geared towards building a Moonbase using an inflatablehabitation area protected by 3D printed lunar regolith, now NASA has launched the multi-phase 3D Printed Habitat Challenge as part of its Centennial Challenges program.
The aim of the US$2.25 million competition is "to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond."
"The futurepossibilities for 3-D printing are inspiring, and the technology isextremely important to deep space exploration," says SamOrtega, manager of the Centennial Challenges program. "Thischallenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currentlycapable of, and we are excited to see what the maker community doeswith it. "
The parameters of thecompetition require designs to be capable of holding four astronautsas they undertake training for a mission to the Red Planet. The firstphase focusses on pushing applicants to put forwards ambitious newdesigns making use of cutting edge architectural technologies.
Phase 2requires participants to develop technologies capable of harvestinglocal resources for use in the construction process. Finally,applicants must construct a full-scale habitat using local andre-purposed resources.
The potential benefits to the development ofadvanced 3D printed habitats is clear. Not only can it beused to provide affordable housing to those in need on Earth, but bycutting down on building materials required for transportation toMars, the endeavour becomes more sustainable. This represents aconsiderable saving when you take into account that each pound of equipmentsent into space costs the agency around US$10,000.
Phase 1 of the competition runs until September 27, with the top 30 submissions to be judged at the World Maker Faire in New York.