The Red Planet's First Homes? AI SpaceFactory Wins NASA's Mars 3D-Printed Habitat Contest

Monday, 13 May 2019 - 8:59AM
Mars
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Monday, 13 May 2019 - 8:59AM
The Red Planet's First Homes? AI SpaceFactory Wins NASA's Mars 3D-Printed Habitat Contest
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AI SpaceFactory/Plomp
It's strange to think that we'll likely see the first human colonies on Mars – a planet that appears as a tiny rust-colored dot in the sky – within our lifetimes. Part of the wonder that revelation inspires comes from the recognition that there will be new technology and discoveries along the way that will irrevocably change our lives; our entire realities. One of those discoveries has just manifested in the first prototypes of human habitats for the red planet. The habitats, dubbed MARSHA (MARS HAbitat) were designed and built by AI SpaceFactory and won first place in the final stage of NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Competition. Their 15-foot-tall prototype won them $500,000. 



AI SpaceFactory/Plomp

The pod-like structures are dual-shell, multi-level dwellings with at least one window on each floor. The company notes that each habitat can be built with almost no human assistance and that, rather than concrete, would be printed from an "innovative biopolymer basalt composite, a biodegradable and recyclable material derived from natural materials found on Mars," thus adding an element of forethought and sustainability sorely lacking on our own home planet. From a purely practical standpoint, the material was found to be stronger than concrete during NASA's testing. 


Aside from their novel architecture, optimized to withstand Mars' atmospheric pressure and wild temperature swings, the habitats are built with human mental and physical health in mind, allowing in natural light while blocking out harmful radiation. The interiors are well-lit, seeming even spacious in the artist conceptions.



AI SpaceFactory/Plomp


AI SpaceFactory/Plomp


AI SpaceFactory/Plomp


Moreover, because the habitats are quick to build – the prototype took only 30 hours – entire "neighborhoods" could be set up: an early Martian equivalent of a village. One shudders to think that one day there could be chain restaurants on Mars, but let's try not to dwell on the vulgarity of that particular scenario. 



AI SpaceFactory/Plomp


AI SpaceFactory/Plomp

The entirety of the MARSHA project combines the best of innovation, technology, and human-centered design, recognizing the importance of aesthetics as well as practicality in creating what are ultimately intended to be humanity's first homes away from home. 


"Architecture on Earth plays a critical role in the way we live," the creators write on their website. "On Mars, this role reaches a higher level of importance since architectures are machines which keep us alive. In space architecture, every design decision is of great consequence to the success of a mission. Structures must be resilient and interior layouts must function around mission demands.  But since sustained social and mental health is also mission-critical, space habitats should offer an element of humanity.  The result is a credible and evocative habitat with an alien yet familiar beauty."


We couldn't agree more.

 
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