Last week, NASA named three teams the winners of the fourth level of the third phase of the space agency's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, awarding them a total of $100,000. This latest level of the competition required teams to create a full-scale model of their habitat design using modeling software, according to a press release.
First launched in 2014, the competition aims to foster the development of new 3D-printing technologies by inviting teams to design sustainable habitats for human life on Mars. The challenge was divided into three phases: the Design Competition, the Structural Member Competition, and the On-Site Habitat Competition. The current phase, the On-Site Habitat Competition, challenges competitors to "fabricate sub-scale habitats" over three construction levels and two virtual levels, according to NASA's website. Most recently, Phase Three, Level Three challenged the teams to design a 1,000-square-foot living space that could support astronauts for a one-year mission.
From May 1 through 4, two finalist teams will compete for the grand prize of $800,000 in what NASA describes as "a head-to-head sub-scale structure print" challenge taking place in Peoria, Ill.
New York–based Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch+) and Boston-based 3D printing technology company Apis Cor were awarded first place for their Mars X-House proposal. Constructed of materials local to the Martian surface, the dual-shell module is designed to provide protection from cosmic radiation and the harsh physical conditions of Mars. Trough-shaped ports puncture the facade allowing light to enter through the top and sides.
Rogers, Ark–based team Zopherus was awarded second place. Its modular habitat proposal features a moving, 3D-printing robot that deploys rovers to retrieve materials extracted from the Martian surface without any human interference.
The design from New Haven, Conn–based team Mars Incubator won third place. The design consists of a vestibule, a primary living space, a multi-use space, and a bio-generation are for plant growth.