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NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge: Team LavaHive



Project Status

Concept Proposal



Project Description


LavaHive is a modular, additive-manufactured Martian habitat design using a proposed novel ‘lava-casting’ construction technique as well as utilizing recycled spacecraft materials and structures. Our design incorporates usually discarded components as a key element of the habitat concept. The back shell of the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) system that will deliver the construction rovers will be used for the primary habitat roof, with an inflatable module underneath as the primary living habitat. Using the readily available Martian regolith, two rovers will use a combination of sintering and ‘lava-casting’ to build connecting corridors and sub-habitats around the main inflatable section. These sub-habitats will then be fitted, sealed internally with epoxy and furnished as a research area, workshop or greenhouse depending on the mission design.

A number of advantages are realized by utilizing this ‘lava-casting’ approach. Firstly, as a building material in terms of structural strength, it is a superior to thermally induced sintered material. Secondly, relative to any sintered material, we can expect basaltic lava, once cooled, to have a much higher material density. This would have considerable benefits in terms of providing radiation shielding on the surface environment. The permeability of basalt stone is also superior to that of a sintered process, which is an important consideration for forming a hermetic, atmosphere trapping seal. Our approach represents a unique application of the additive manufacturing methodology, using available in-situ resources and spacecraft components, creating a realistic and achievable approach to a 3D printed Mars habitat.

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