3D-Printed Martian Habitat Nets $500K

MARSHA, a 15-foot-tall prototype printed from materials found on Mars, won a NASA contest seeking sustainable shelters for deep-space exploration.

Last week, New York-based AI SpaceFactory won $500,000 by taking first place in NASA's 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. Now, if that sentence alone can't get kids interested in STEM, we're beyond saving.

The competition asked participants to manufacture sustainable shelters for deep-space habitation, including the Moon and Mars.

The team created MARSHA, a 15-foot-tall prototype that was 3D printed by robots in 30 hours. The team likely beat out the other challengers because it was printed with little human intervention — robots even placed the windows.

MARSHA was printed in a biopolymer basalt composite, a biodegradable and recyclable material made from materials found on Mars. The composite stood up well to NASA's pressure, smoke and impact testing and proved to be stronger than other concrete competitors.

AI SpaceFactory spent two years developing construction technologies for Mars. Next, the team plans to recycle and use the materials to 3D print TERA, which is essentially the same thing, but built for Earth-based humans.

The team plans to launch TERA on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and will offer people a chance to experience what sustainable life might be like on Mars.

I for one, will be signing up, or at least eagerly await it until I realize that I'm priced out.

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