Living on Mars might not be just a wishful thinking, NASA and America Makes have teamed up to launch 3D Printed Habitat Challenge where participants are tasked to design 3D printed habitat for deep space exploration. One of the finalists is Foster + Partners, this company has come up with 3D Printed Modular Habitat where the design outlines plans for a settlement on Mars. It is constructed by an array of pre-programmed, semi-autonomous robots prior to eventual arrival of the astronauts. The design boasts robust 3D-printed dwelling for up to 4 astronauts, constructed using regolith (loose soil and rocks), this material can be easily found on the surface of Mars.
This is not just rough idea, this project has considered multiple aspects from delivery, deployment, construction, to operations. This structure will be delivered in 2 stages prior the arrival of the astronauts, first, there are semi-autonomous robots that will select the perfect site and dig around 1.5meter deep crater. The second delivery would be the inflatable modules that sit within the crater to form the main core of the settlement. Communication between Mars to Earth might experience any delays or errors, therefore, deployment and construction is designed to take place with minimal human interference, the robots will rely on rules and objectives rather than defined instructions. This mechanism makes the system more adaptive to changes and any unexpected challenges.
Designer : Foster and Partners
Three robots will be launched to the surface of Mars where each unit performs different, specific task with the large-scale Regolith Additive Construction (RAC) process. The “Diggers” will create the crater by excavating the regolith while the “Transporters” would move into position over the inflatable habitat modules layer by layer. “Melters” would then fuse that loose Martial soil around the modules with microwaves, the same principle used in 3D printing. This fused regolith creates a permanent shield that protects the area from excessive radiation and extreme outside temperatures. The idea of separating tasks amongst robots and the modularity habitat allows for a high level of redundancy, in this way, if one robot fails or a single module is damaged, there are others that can quickly fulfill its task, increasing the changes of a successful mission.
Each 3D Printed Modular Habitat features compact 93sqm living space. It combines spatial efficiency with human physiology and psychology, overlapping private and communal space. The structure is finished with soft materials and enhanced virtual environments that help reduce adverse effects of monotony to create positive living environments for the astronauts.