NASA launches design and build competition for outer space

Architects across the world  are being asked to go where no-on has gone before and design a settlement to house humans on another planet.

US space agency NASA has launched he contest to design and build a 3-D–printed habitat suitable for deep space exploration is part of its Centennial Challenges program, which aims to get people involved in technological innovations.

For deep space exploration shelters are vital for the astronauts’ survival – but cargo space on missions is sure to be limited because of the need for spacecraft to carry large amounts of fuel.

Looking towards a trip to Mars the agency wants to develop 3-D–printable habitats that can be manufactured with indigenous materials or parts from the spacecraft.

The competition will be broken into two phases. The first focuses on design concepts for the habitats, and the winners, who will be announced in September at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York, will split a $50,000 prize.

The next phase has two levels, each with a $1.1 million prize. The first will see competitors creating technology that allows for the 3-D printing, while the second will actually will actually see the production of full-scale habitats with those materials.

Programme manager Sam Ortega said: “The possibilities for 3-D 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.”