The ol' Space Age fantasy that humans could one day live on Mars has not wavered, especially with tycoons like Elon Musk reviving public attention to the longtime space endeavor in recent months. In relation, NASA and America Makes (National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) co-launched the $2.25 million 3D Printed Habitat Challenge as part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, which awards prizes to innovations originating from diverse independent and non-traditional sources.
Phase One of the multi-stage competition seeks architectural concepts for a 3D-printed human shelter for Mars, which would incorporate pre-existing "indigenous" planetary materials and possibly recycled space-mission materials as well. While the competition focuses on Mars, NASA and America Makes hope to apply the concepts for shelters to be constructed on the Moon, or who knows, maybe even for deep-space explorations. On the other hand, the competition was also designed to find the additive technology that could potentially advance sustainable housing solutions that are needed here on Earth.
Read on for more details about the competition.
The first phase of the competition runs until September 27. Out of the participants who receive an invitation to compete, the jury will eventually select the top 30 submissions to advance to the final round at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York City. A $50,000 cash prize will be divided among three winners.
The second phase of the competition is divided into two levels:
- The Structural Member Competition (Level 1) focuses on the fabrication technologies needed to manufacture structural components from a combination of indigenous materials and recyclables, or indigenous materials alone.
- The On-Site Habitat Competition (Level 2) challenges competitors to fabricate full-scale habitats using indigenous materials or indigenous materials combined with recyclables. Both levels open for registration on September 26. Both competitions will each award a $1.1 million prize.
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