NASA Gives 500k for Martian Habitat

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What Will Your Home on Mars Look Like?  Now You Can See for Yourself!

NASA Gives Half a Million to New Habitat Designers

A few years back, NASA threw down the gauntlet to the public sector and said, “Build us a Martian house.” Okay, they didn’t actually put it that way, but the idea was to outsource the design of future habitats for humans on Mars to the general public.  They rolled out the competition in different stages, with the first being completed in 2015.  Just this week, NASA awarded a team called AI SpaceFactory a prize of $500,000 for building a full-scale 3D-printed model of their Martian design.

See The Video Here:

Public-Private Partnership and the Race to Mars

I’ve written a lot about NASA’s reliance on companies like SpaceX and Boeing to get us to Mars, but this is the first we’ve published here about what life will be like once we actually get to Mars.  No, it’s not quite what we saw in that Matt Damon movie…  However, there’s a lot to like about the video above.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Competition:  Competition traditionally drives innovation, and that definitely shows here.  This competition helped advance the goal of life on Mars, but, like so many other competitions concerning aerospace, it has also pushed advances in other industries.  As stated in the video, the 3D printing techniques on display in the competition can be applied here on Earth, too.
  • Natural Materials and Few Wasted Resources: MARSHA, the NASA award-winning Martian habitat, gets her structure from basalt – er, basalt-composite, to be exact.  Basalt really makes sense when it comes to life on Mars because the planet is full of the stuff.  It also shields occupants quite well from Martian radiation – which would kill you pretty quickly without protection.  The other part of the composite is a plant-based polymer that can be made with plants grown on Mars.  
  • Above-Ground Structures: MARSHA sits atop the Martian surface by design.  The video points out that AI SpaceFactory paid special attention to the fact that psychological health is important for any kind of sustainable life on the red planet.  MARSHA features several levels of living and working space.  They even included windows so that future Martians will be able to have a relationship with their ecosystem beyond just EVAs.  Most other competitors chose to design below-ground structures to counteract radiation levels, but MARSHA’s basalt construction takes care of that.
Earth version of the 3d-printed Martian habitat called TERA sits in the woods.

The Earthbound version of MARSHA, TERA!

  • Applications on Earth: Another great thing about this design is that it can be used here on Earth in lots of great ways.  The team at AI SpaceFactory is already working on reassembling the structure for a terrestrial example.  These homes look a lot like the tiny houses everyone’s raving about lately.  Assuming they can control costs, AI SpaceFactory could sell the NASA award-winning Martian habitat here in order to help their business grow and, as they say, get the practice they need to perfect the technique for Martian life.  Affordable housing on Earth and Mars – another win/win for science!

NASA’s New Martian Habitat… Or mine?

I love MARSHA.  Marsha, Marsha, Marsha… (I couldn’t resist).  In fact, I totally want to buy one.  I don’t know if I’ll ever have one on Mars, but I’d sure love to have one here.  I’m in love with everything about 3D-printing, and I love the minimalist, efficient look of the thing.  She’s tall and slim, but with curves in all the right places, and I love her.  Well, done, AI SpaceFactory.  Congratulations! 

Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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