NASA wants technology ideas from citizen inventors that can help create 3D-printed shelters for space explorers as part of the second phase of a $1.1 million challenge.
The agency said Friday it started the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge to search for material technologies that could help print shelters from a combination of readily-available and recyclable materials.
“Shelter is an obvious necessity as we prepare to explore worlds beyond our home planet, but space and weight aboard our vehicles are precious, and taken by the many other resources we will need for survival,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator at NASA's space technology mission directorate.
“That's why we are seeking the technology to reuse the materials we will already be carrying, and combine them with what is already available at our destination, which is, in this case, soil,” Jurczyk added.
NASA said technologies from the challenge could be used to build shelters for future human explorers to Mars and also construct affordable housing on Earth.
The space agency will collaborate with Bradley University and corporate sponsors Caterpillar, Bechtel and Brick & Mortar Ventures for the second phase of the challenge.
Teams can register for the second phase until Jan. 31, 2017 and the competition will begin at Caterpillar’s Peoria, Illinois-based proving ground facilities in August 2017.
Phase three of the challenge will involve the production of complete habitats, NASA noted.