Citizen inventors: NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge

Future space missions won’t be able to carry all their building materials from Earth. Competitors are challenged to fabricate habitats using indigenous materials. $2 million prize!

Hey all you citizen inventors! On November 7, 2017, NASA opened team registration for Phase 3 of its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge – the On-Site Habitat Competition. Get a team together and grab this awesome opportunity to share your ideas – plus there’s a $2 million total prize purse.

If humans plan to live on Mars – and beyond – future missions won’t be able to carry all of the necessary building materials from Earth, so we’re going to need some innovative options for shelter. NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is looking for ways to develop technologies to create such habitats on-site, and challenges citizen inventors to lead the way.

In other words, NASA wants America’s best and brightest to help them figure out how to build a house on Mars, using advanced 3D printing technology in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.

Competition details, schedule and rules.

According to a NASA statement:

The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials. The vision is that autonomous machines will someday be deployed to the Moon, Mars or beyond to construct shelters for human habitation.

First place winner in Phase 2: Ice house by SEArch/Clouds Architecture Office. Read more about this design here. Image via NASA.

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is divided into phases. The Phase 1: Design Competition called on participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts and was completed in 2015.

The Phase 2: Structural Member Competition focused on manufacturing structural components and was completed in August 2017.

The now-open Phase 3: On-Site Habitat Competition challenges competitors to fabricate sub-scale habitats using indigenous materials with or without mission-generated recyclables, and offers a $2 million total prize purse.

Mars Artificial Atmospheric Envelope (M.A.A.E.) – a finalist from Phase 2. More info about this design here. Image via NASA.

Phase 3 has five levels of competition. Interested teams may register through February 15, 2018. Find full details, schedule and rules here.

Monsi Roman is program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges. Roman said in a statement:

The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring. The solutions we seek from our competitions are revolutionary, which by nature makes them extremely difficult. But this only fuels our teams to work harder to innovate and solve.

Bottom line: On November 7, 2017, NASA opened team registration for Phase 3 of its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge – the On-Site Habitat Competition

Read more from NASA

Eleanor Imster