NASA announces ‘Design Challenge’ with $2.25 million cash prize for best 3D printed design of habitat on Mars

Earlier this month NASA invited innovative suggestions for its Journey to Mars Challenge. Now, NASA has announced a ‘Design Challenge‘ wherein the participants need to design and build 3D printed habitat for Mars which would not only make colonization easy for the pioneers but also ensure their safety.

NASA in collaboration with National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as ‘America Makes’ has announced the contest with the main aim of assisting the construction technology which can help to create improved housing solutions on Earth as well as space.

As per the contest the best 3D printed designs of habitat on Mars would win a prize money of $2.25 million.

The contest is not an easy task as it appears to be. Basically, NASA wants participants to think out of box to build shelters on a planet which has not been explored yet.

NASA said: “Shelter is among the most basic and crucial human needs, but packing enough materials and equipment to build a habitat on a distant planet would take up valuable cargo space that could be used for other life-sustaining provisions.”

Further NASA added: “The ability to manufacture a habitat using indigenous materials, combined with material that would otherwise be waste from the spacecraft, would be invaluable.”

Participants would need to give a demonstration of building a habitat using the 3D printed design and the design which is quickest as well as robust would be given more preference.

The contest is made of three phases in all.

Phase I would run till 27th September. This is more about checking the efficiency of the habitat’s design. Participants need to show their architectural skills by using the capabilities of 3D printers. In this phase NASA will select top 30 submissions, of which one winner will be chosen for a prize money of $50,000.

Phase II, this basically would focus on what material has been used to build the habitat. In other words it checks the fabrication techniques used by the participant for developing the habitations. The technique which would aid in reducing the cost of materials required and which would help in fast building of the habitat would be given a preference.

Phase III, here the participants would need to construct their design on Mars, probably in a setting that will replicate Mars.

Entries for Phase II and III will open in September and winners of both the phases would be rewarded with $1.1 million cash prize.

For more information regarding the challenge check this official link.

NASA has urged everyone to compete in the Design Challenge. The submissions would be accepted till August 3rd.

Sam Ortega, Centennial Challenges program manager said: “The future possibilities for 3D printing are inspiring, and the technology is extremely important to deep space exploration. This challenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currently capable of, and we are excited to see what the maker community does with it.”

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute has mentioned on their official website: “If we can solve for the need to ship materials, we can develop solutions for a variety of scenarios, including those for humanitarian and disaster relief efforts on earth, wherever affordable housing is needed and access to conventional building materials is limited.”

Lets hope NASA’s Design Challenge helps the designers and creative people to think out of box and design specialized techniques which will help people to build affordable houses in remote locations on Earth if not on Mars!

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