NASA’s Mars Habitat Design Competition


NASA’s Mars habitat design competition round-up:



All habitat designs have their strong points with few weak points. I cannot decide which I prefer!


The winner is elegant…

However these companies are only from america … There were some very nice European examples that are not admissible cos its not American.


Nobody’s design left room for tunnel access, that’s a big failing in my book. Also it looks like no one consulted a plant guy on where and how to grow things, most of the garden spaces or growth chambers were largely impractical.


Yeah i thought the plants placements were a bit impractical. But i assumed they were for aesthetics and there would be purpose built “farms” somewhere else. ie its probably going to be mainly hydroponics with LED lighting in underground buildings to start with. In terms of productivity its safer to have a fully controlled environment purpose built first.

I also noticed Tunnel access missing and not only that some of the designs make it hard to actually dig a tunnel basement later… so yeah… not good.

Still the team that won, the Zopherus, does leave enough space between the buildings that if an underground section is needed it can be dug out and integrated to the main buildings.


Past failed designs


More sci-fi



I thought the European designed 3D print bases got picked up by ESA for a moon facility did that not happen? I’m a huge 3D printing fanbut all of these designs at least in the European one and the NASA ones I’ve seen look like they’re Reinventing the wheel. Can compressing lunar regolith or Martian topsoil not also work to build structures like they do with compressing dirt to make Earthen blocks that they build buildings and houses out of. I would think it would be simpler to build a Rover that pumped out bricks in a lineas it drove a grid pattern making a nice building site. Then have another one that’s make little igloos out of your bricks. With the spacing between bricks stacked up give enough of the Gap to allow loss of air or radiation in.


The problem with just binding sand into bricks is the pressure. A 2 meter by 2 meter by 2 meter brick building made airtight by a layer of plastic for instance, would, even if they used a reduced pressure of 34% of sea level, have 279 tons of force pushing out on every wall. For comparison a heavy pickup truck is about 6 tons. Bricks just wouldn’t hold together. You’d need something that has a lot of tensile strength or to build deep enough for the pressure of the soil to hold your structure together (that’s about 250 meters down for the moon).


Then the 3D printing idea in these designs wouldn’t work because the layer adhesion when you’re stacking vertically is its weakest point. When your pressure is against the layers horizontally instead of vertically where the layer adhesion would be an advantage this way the air pressure would be focusing on the weakest point of the design the individual layer hesion between two layers instead of spreading that pressure out through all the layers. no matter what they do they’re going to have to put some sort of artificial mix into the natural material that use as a filler. So if they stacked interlocking blocks and then poured another slurry down holes in lox you would get the layer bonding of the slurry going vertically while the blocks would be interlocked horizontally. so I can see if they used the technique like pouring one continuous layer of concrete when you move the machine and just keep adding layers and it hardened layers of concrete on one end while still pouring continuous layers on the top and making one seamless in product we already do that and it works quite well at keeping back water pressure on the bottom of oil rigs. I don’t know the exact pressure rating but it a thousand feet underwater that’s going to be a lot.


They also use high tension steel cables in concrete pours to improve tensile strength. They might be able to do something similar on a 3D print, but pretentioning things could be tricky.


The Apollo lander was pretty weak, but did fine. Pressure difference between one atmosphere and zero is manageable.


It was also very small. Larger structures have bigger forces.


They will be testing these structures soon. Ie they will be getting them to print them as part of the Competition and then putting internal pressure to see how it functions. I think they also did this test in some early competitions, resulting in some fun explosions !! :slight_smile:








Dr2Ar1UV4AAFrBr CJ1jKg magazine7_92 magazine7_91%2C magazine7_89 magazine7_87 DOSp4N7WsAMGtPt Dr_3SNNWwAAQ6Df Dr_3SNfXgAAQBMH sei_39948291-d044 sei_39948386-c925 sei_39948289-1a11 DmqhjNfXoAAi-Yq