- NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge finally revealed a winner this month after four years of competition.
- Designers were asked to create a printable 3D habitat that could shelter humans on Mars.
- The winning design, known as Marsha, features vertical pods with outer shells made from materials naturally found on the red planet.
- The pods also feature hatches that deploy space suits and a docking port for a Mars Exploration Rover.
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Designing space colonies has become a pet project for some of the world’s most prominent architects, but few concepts have received a coveted stamp of approval from the space explorers at NASA.
Earlier this month, NASA awarded first place in its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which asked teams to build a 3D habitat that could shelter humans on Mars.
The competition, which began in 2015, was divided into three phases: design, material technologies, and construction. The finalists came down to just two teams, AI SpaceFactory and Pennsylvania State University, who were given four days to build shelters at a third the size of their original vision.
The winning team, AI SpaceFactory, was awarded $500,000 for its design — a vertical pod that can be printed in just 30 hours.
Take a look at the prototype, Marsha, which will soon be recycled into a real-life habitat on Earth.
NASA aims to build habitats on Mars before people arrive, so the teams’ prototypes needed to support human life.
The ideal prototype had to be both strong and lightweight, like an airplane.
Marsha’s vertical pods mimic Earth’s natural lighting, while offering a peek at their surroundings.
The pod windows can shield inhabitants from solar radiation.
The pods feature hatches that deploy space suits and a docking port for a Mars Exploration Rover.
The company refers to the prototype as "a tiny bubble of Earth."
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