With human travel to Mars an inevitability, NASA is making preparations for how people would live on the planet.
The idea of astronauts traveling to Mars and living there for many years is still a far off concept for many.But space organizations are pushing ahead with plans, as they know that such a venture is possible in the next decade.
NASA’s 3D-printed homes challenge is another indication of the way the venture may play out.
NASA issued a challenge over a year ago where teams were encouraged to apply for the chance to win significant cash prizes. The competition? Who could build the best 3D-printed home for living on Mars.
The competition is now in its third phase, with only five teams remaining. These are the teams that created the best concepts and showed them off to NASA. Right now, the concepts created by the teams are still virtual models.
It is not surprising to see some very futuristic designs from the teams for this competition. But NASA did not want some “far out” idea that was unachievable. When the teams were tasked with creating their models using Building Information Modeling software, they had to be very specific.
Teams were asked to include the types of materials that would be used for various surfaces. And the 3D models had to show the entire workings of the home, not just the exterior. And the homes should have at least 1000 feet of space, because they are designed for four people to live for at least one year.
All of the concepts are available to view on YouTube. And looking at some of the designs, one would guess they came out of a sci-fi movie. While it may seem that way, the designs were vetted by experts who know what is required for humans to live on Mars.
And these are homes that must be complex enough to allow humans to live there comfortably, while being simple enough for a robot to build them. NASA has a plan that involves a robot going to Mars, setting up the bases and homes required, and then having astronauts fly to the planet.
There are now five teams competing to see who will win the ultimate cash prize from NASA. The prizes doled out to this date are still being used in the competition.
The teams, which include Zopherus, AI SpaceFactory, Kahn-Yates, SEArch+/ApisCor, and Northwestern University, now have to create a true they want to put on Mars.
While it does not have to be a full sized model, it should be a third of the size of the actual home. The teams were given $20,000 each and they will be using that money to ensure they can set up the printer and other supplies they need to print out those models.
It is clear that NASA and other space organizations are pushing ahead with their plans for space travel. These 3D printed homes are another step in that direction.