Future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond will require innovative options to shelter our explorers, and we won't be able to carry all of the materials with us from Earth. NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a Centennial Challenges competition, seeks ways to create or develop the technologies needed to create such habitats on-site, and challenges citizen inventors to lead the way.
NASA and challenge partner Bradley University of Peoria, Ill., announced Nov. 7 the opening of Phase 3 of the competition for team registration.
"The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring," said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA's Centennial Challenges. "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."
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. On Earth, these same capabilities could be used to produce affordable housing wherever it is needed or where access to conventional building materials and skills are limited.
"Bradley prides itself on experiential learning and student engagement," said Bradley University President Gary Roberts. "This challenge isn't something our students can learn about in a textbook or in a classroom. This is a forward-thinking concept coming to life, and they have a chance to see it firsthand. They will meet the people making it happen and learn about the ideas that are fueling innovation. This could change the way they imagine the future and push their creative limits."
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 2016.
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. Phase 3 has five levels of competition. Interested teams may register through Feb. 15, 2018. Full details, schedule and rules can be found here.
NASA's Centennial Challenges Program is part of the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate and is managed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. For more information about the program, visit www.nasa.gov/winit. For more information about other challenges and prize opportunities with NASA, visit www.nasa.gov/solve.