NASA reveals winners of 3D-printed mars habitat competition

NASA reveals winners of 3D-printed mars habitat competition

NASA has selected the five winning designs in the latest stage of its 3D-printed habitat competition, including a pod inspired by the anatomy of a spider and vertical egg-like containerteams were challenged to come up with a solution that tackled the issues of transporting materials to mars, considering differences in atmosphere and landscape on the red planet.

NASA reveals winners of 3D-printed mars habitat competition

arkansas-based team zopherus propose a spider-like lander to host the 3D-printed process from an internal chamber



the multi-phase competition challenged designers and engineers to use construction techniques enabled by 3D printing technology. the shelter had to include a thousand square feet of space, enough to accommodate four astronauts on a mission to mars as well as a room to store the necessary machinery. each team was required to create digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a house on mars using specialised software tools.


videos by NASA’s marshall space flight center



first place in this stage went to arkansas-based team zopherus who proposed a spider-like lander to host the 3D-printed process from an internal chamber. after landing the pod would scanning its surroundings before selecting an optimum print area, assisted by a series of autonomous robots who would gather materials like ice, calcium oxide and martian aggregate, for the 3D printer. the lander seals to the ground to provide a protected, pressurised environment for the structure to be printed. once complete, the lander would lift its legs to reveal the structure and move on to the next location to build another, creating a small series of rooms.

NASA reveals winners of 3D-printed mars habitat competition

AI spacefactory present egg-shaped structure, designed with a double shell to combat the aggressive thermal effects of mars



AI spacefactory came in second place, presenting an egg-shaped structure, designed with a double shell to combat the aggressive thermal effects of mars. like the zopherus habitat, the team envisions the marsha design to use materials sourced from mars including basalt fibre, extracted from martian rock, and renewable bioplastic (polylactic acid) derived from plants that could be grown on the planet. to read more see here.




in third place, kahn-yates designed oblong structures, designed with a perforated, high-strength plastic layer that lets the light in. the shape of the structure is intended to minimise the impact from potential dust storms. the pre-fabricated dwelling would arrive on mars within a space-faring module which would split off on landing. an integrated print arm would then print a concrete shell, while secondary nozzles print HDPE (high-density polyethylene) layers on either side of the shell.



in fourth place SEArch+/Apis Cor, submitted a habitat that carefully considers its position and shape to maximize light whilst protecting against radiation exposure. finally fifth place, designed by northwestern university, uses an inflatable vessel as the base for the printer to create a double-shell design featuring a unique spherical shell and outer parabolic dome. it’s built using a sloped site expanding the amount of possible locations on the uneven martian terrain.

NASA reveals winners of 3D-printed mars habitat competition

SEArch+/Apis Cor submitted a habitat to maximize light whilst protecting against radiation exposure




NASA launched the 3D-printed habitat challenge back in 2015 to find suitable artificial accommodation concepts for the first wave of martian residents. the five winners set to build scale models next year. the winners, who were ranked using a point system, were selected by NASA in partnership with bradley university of peoria, illinois, out of 18 groups from around the world. they will all share part of a $100,000 prize depending on the score achieved. the winners are set to build scale models next year.




we are thrilled to see the success of this diverse group of teams that have approached this competition in their own unique styles,’ said monsi roman, programme manager for NASA’s series of centennial challenges.they are not just designing structures, they are designing habitats that will allow our space explorers to live and work on other planets. we are excited to see their designs come to life as the competition moves forward.’

  • Designboom has a comment section … it seeks comments … then it tells one …. you are making too many comments … and it edits comments it does not like … this Mars stuff is pure fantasy … fantasy is much better left to … Disney. My second comment o the day on this subject.

    Leonardo Sideri
  • The 4 and 5 places just haven’t enough details to be judged. Strange, no one thought of other than plane ground (slopes, canions, under-ground …)

  • I’m sorry You write: they are not just designing structures, they are designing habitats that will allow our space explorers to live and work on other planets.

    They could not be rationally considering such issues with regard to Mars, for the simplest of common sense, from our moon experience is that aside for a VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME TO EXPERIMENT (if any such is now required after being on the moon several times) That no planet in our solar system IS SUITABLE FOR LONG TERM LIVING AS HUMAN BEINGS WITH WHAT WE REQUIRE TO LIVE A MEANINGFUL LIFE. Absent “FANTASY REPLICATORS THAT CAN PRODUCE WHATEVER IS REQUIRE simply by some author asserting it is there” or “fantasy warp drive” that intellectually then eliminates the limitation of light years of distance between us and any likely “meaningful life (as distinguished from living in a small prison for a short time until our other resources we needed were exhausted we could possibly bring with us or never were there nor the practical resources to get them, if some of them are.) Note the early pioneers that discovered and then lived permanently in the US did so because they found the necessary resources WERE AVAILABLE AT THEIR DESTINATION, FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. Indeed, Indians had been living there for a long time before us, FOR THAT REASON.

    Using the fantasy motivation assumption that life on earth becomes Uninhabitable as motivation and justification for assuming that another planet in our system would magically become “habitable” AND THEREFORE WE MUST SPEND HUGE RESOURCES OF ALL KINDS TO “PREPARE TO DO WHAT CAN NOT BE DONE” FIND ANOTHER HABITAT AS OUR FOREFATHERS DID WHEN THEY DECIDED EUROPE AND ASIA WERE NO LONGER “HABITABLE IN THEIR “PERCEPTION” is just an obvious misleading and irrelevant precedent. And NASA, I think, you need to return to the reality of circumstances all humans were born into THAT WE CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT. And no duplicate the huge inexcusable mistake that for 1500 years the intellectual community INSISTED to the point of killing people that ALL THE STARS revolved around the piddly earth. Which of course would require that the piddly earth be in existence near the start of the present form of the universe. And of course, there is absolutely no rational reason for all of them to do so nor any reason to even begin to think that they would… and the worse mistake that when the foolishness of that long term assertion finally fell by the wayside as most foolishness does in the face of reality, inspite of human arrogance …. IS NO ONE EVER THEN SOUGHT TO ASK MUCH LESS ANSWER why did they for so long make such a stupid mistake. And the result has been the intellectual community, continues to make such inexcusable mistakes and also doesn’t have a clue that they are doing so. But they are…. in wholesale quantities…. and this is an example of one of them and there are many. An so is the following:

    The existence of Binary Stars of equal mass that you all have no doubt but that they do exist. But whatever you understand about one of them by definition of your assertion applies also to the other. So unless they had a perfect circle orbit and no outside forces ever to interfere ….. If either had a reason to change out of the situation, BOTH WOULD HAVE THE SAME REASON AT THE SAME TIME BEING EQUAL. And so if they came closer together then would continue to do so and have no reason to not do so. And the same would apply if one had some reason to go further. And the typical animation of them, going in ever changing distances between them is a fantasy because there is no reason to alternately change back and forth. Unlike with one large mass, and one relatively very small mass, THERE IS A REASON FOR THEM TO REVERSE EITHER A TOO NEAR OR TOO FAR CONDITION (because of the vast difference in sizes and differences in capabilities therefore and can do so, which is why some orbits were created and others just past each other by. It is called “feedback relationships” that within limits have the ability and the FORCE to create alternate reversals of conditions TO MODIFY ANY EXISTENCE TEMPORARY CIRCUMSTANCE that would not allow the orbit to continue for billions of years. Newton was quite wrong about understanding orbits at all.
    And also just didn’t understand reality when he assert the Law that all applied forces are automatically confronted with an”equal and opposite force.” Yes Mr. Newton the falling apple was indeed met with the equal (and actually a hell of a lot more force) force equal to the applied force of the apple when it hit the earth. But what you also should have seen was at the stem of the apple just before falling, the gravity force became larger than the attachment force applied by the stem which started the apple’s movement downward ….. that was not met by an equal and opposite force. Nor would have the falling apple at the time it met the an equal water force, if the tree happen to reach out over a river bank. And in fact, if Newton’s “Law” were true then motion would never be able to be created in the first place …. as by definition of the reality of motion creation there is at the time an unequal application of forces. That he could have seen if he had just looked around him. The mistake was also inexcusable.
    But you just watch NASA will never admit to the mistake and continue to encourage others to participate in their “assertions of truth” that are not …. and their are many. Not the least of which that the gravity of the sun and moon ….. attract the oceans directly in the same absolute direction, even when on opposites of the earth, at the same time. Because they “see” that in fact the tide’s are higher (tho slightly less so when opposite) both when they are on the same side of the earth and when on opposite sides of the earth. ((they could note if they chose to that they That the tides tend to be less when the sun is off to the side of the moon) Of course, that presents a logical problem that it doesn’t make any sense when the sun and moon are opposite to each other.
    But again, everyone asserts that they directly attract the tides when on the same side …. and then there are two very different versions of what happens (by two differnent PhD’s on the Nasa website for kids) and different “causes” for tides when they are on opposite sides. One of which says the earth’s gravity HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TIDE FORMATION (how wrong they are! It has everything to do with tides) Another inexcusable mistake. In fact, there is a perfectly rational reason, why what their narrow vision sees as opposites, require a different explaination. When in fact, the reality is as one would expect …. given that tides appear to rise in opposite diretions AT THE SAME TIME ON EACH SIDE OF THE EARTH. The actual reality is one set of circumstances that apply to both at the same time whether the sun and moon are on the same side or on opposite sides! But NASA already knows what causes Tides so they have no reason to look elsewhere other than what their narrow vision sees. And that it causes them to publish two PhD theories with different causes …. both labeled causes of tides ….to our kids ….. either they are not aware of or just don’t care that they do so.

    Nasa will pay billions to go to Mars, but they won’t pay a dime to really learn why it is not possible to do so, as a practical matter, not withstanding the “politically correct” advice we also give our kids …. “You can do anything you set your mind to.” No kids don’t believe that, please. Believe instead that” you can do a heck of a lot more than most of us most of the time think we can. And if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed at anything. ie: you can’t hit the ball if you don’t show up at the ball park. But that truth presupposes than you have taken your dreams and looked in the mirror and MADE A DECISION THAT there is nothing that I can see that prohibits me from accomplishing my dream. I’ sorry there is no limit to what we can dream ….. so this decision is not optional. And it is not a decision that I know I will be able to get all the resources that are required to do so. But it is a decision that there doesn’t seem to be at Present reason that I can not get the resources that I will need. And if there is an obvious reason , and you are looking for them for moment …. out of the “light of your dream” , you will be amazed at how often they will appear which then stops long term frustration over trying to attain, what is not possible for you to obtain, at least not at the present time. and that LOST TIME, may not be recoverable if some other dream you will have requires that time.
    And maybe just maybe, an experience I am having at 81 years old, will be helpful to understand the point more fully. You may think “old people” (which I am, obviously, ) have nothing to offer those younger. But long years of experience, provide perspectives you will find it hard to have with out it ….. wait and see! If you and I were to comtemplate doing something together that would take 15 years to do ….. following this advice, as much as I might want to do it with you ….. I have to look in the mirror and ask the question. And the answer is obvious. All I have to do is be willing to pause and ask it! I had the time 5 years ago ….. but that time has now be spent and for me is now irrecoverable!

    Rowland Stevens
  • I didn’t read anything about radiation protection in the article. Since all these structures are being built aboveground, there had to be a specification about radiation protection.

    Michael Pitts-Campbell

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