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NASA names winners of 3D Printed Habitat Challenge’s virtual construction phase

With every small step ahead in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, the world gets a little bit closer to taking the giant leap of putting humans on Mars. Most recently, NASA awarded the top three teams in the Complete Virtual Construction phase of the challenge: SEArch+/Apis Cor, Zopherus and Mars Incubator.

First launched in 2015, NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge has invited teams from various areas to submit proposals for creating sustainable human habitats for use on the Moon or Mars. The proposed habitats have to be fully thought out, from the 3D printing technology used to produce them, to the materials used in their construction, to the functionality of every design element. Notably, the technologies proposed in the challenge could also ultimately have applications here on Earth in the construction of affordable, sustainable housing. 

NASA Habitat Virtual Construction
Team Zopherus won second place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. (Photo: Zopherus)

The three winners of the most recent level of the contest (Phase 3: Level 4) were selected from a group of eleven team entries. The winners scored the highest points based on architectural layout, programming, efficient use of interior space and the 3D printing scalability and constructibility of the habitat.

This challenge portion, which came with a $100,000 prize (divided between the three winners), involved the creation of a full-scale habitat using modeling software. Other phases in the challenge have focused on the viability of the construction 3D printing technology proposed, materials and more.

NASA Habitat Virtual Construction
Team Mars Incubator won third place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge (Photo: Mars Incubator)

In addition to the full-scale virtual models of the Mars habitats, the participating teams also provided short video clips and miniature 3D printed models to fully showcase their habitat vision and design. Points were also awarded based on these elements of presentation, taking into account aesthetic representation and realism.

The next phase of the contest will see the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge participants 3D print a sub-scale (1:3) model of their habitat. The head-to-head print process will take place from May 1-4 in front of a live audience in Peoria, Illinois, where the challenge partner, Bradley University, is based. Winners of this contest phase will share a prize of $800,000.

Last month, SEArch+/Apis Cor, AI Space Factory, Pennsylvania State University and the Colorado School of Mines and ICON were selected as the top four teams in the Seal Test Stage of 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.


Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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