NASA Endorses AI SpaceFactory's Vision for 3D Printed Huts on Mars

NASA Endorses AI SpaceFactory's Vision for 3D Printed Huts on Mars

AI SpaceFactory has released details of their proposed cylindrical huts for the Planet Mars, designed as part of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge organized by NASA. Project MARSHA (Mars HAbitat) was endorsed by NASA with a top prize of almost $21,000, one of five designs selected from a field of seventeen.

The competition asked participants to design an effective habitat for a crew of four astronauts to be located on the Red Planet, using construction techniques enabled by 3D printing. The submitted schemes were then ranked based on their innovation, architectural layout, and level of detail in BIM modeling.

NASA Endorses AI SpaceFactory's Vision for 3D Printed Huts on Mars - More Images+ 21

Marsha is constructed from local material. Machines would harvest he land for material, leaving patterns in the sand like a rock garden. Image © Plompmozes
Marsha protects humans from the harsh Martian environment, including the frigid temperatures, dust storms and radiation. Image © Plompmozes

According to AI SpaceFactory, MARSHA represents a “radical departure from previous habitat schemes typified by low-lying domes or buried structures.” Instead, MARSHA adopts a vertically-orientated cylinder, the result of a series of spatial and efficiency studies. The shape permits the habitats to be highly effective vessels optimized for Mars’ atmospheric pressure and structural stresses, as well as providing a greater ratio of usable floor area to volume.

The primary power source for a Martian settlement will be nuclear. In this image, an array of reactors radiate heat into the Martian morning. Image © Plompmozes
The Sun, despite it’s greater distance compared to Earth, is a viable power source on the surface of Mars. Image © Plompmozes

MARSHA relies solely on materials harvested from the surface of Mars during construction. Formulating an innovate mixture of basalt fiber (derived from the planet’s surface) and renewable bioplastic (derived from plants grown on Mars) the scheme eliminates the need for material transportation from Planet Earth. The construction process is also aided by the cylindrical form of the habitat, presenting the most printable pressure vessel with a reduced need for mobility.

Dust devils are common on Mars. Due to the low atmospheric pressure, they are not dangerous to humans or structures. Image © Plompmozes

To enable expansion and contraction in response to Mars’ drastic thermal swings, MARSHA is anchored to the surface by a flanged shell moving on slides, with clamps and soil anchors securing the pod against uplift. Inside, a double shell separates the pressure vessel from the habitable area, resulting in a range of architectural uses.

The zone between the two shells functions as a light well and a space for stairs to gentle spiral from level to level. Image © Plompmozes
Marsha’s two- shell structure creates flexible, hybrid spaces which offer a variety of lighting conditions, privacy, noise levels and uses. Image © Plompmozes

Atop the structure, a large water-filled skylight allows for the habitable area to be bathed with natural light, aided by intermittent windows. The space between the inner and outer shell further diffuses this light, to more accurately reflect conditions on Earth, while also containing a staircase to enhance maintenance, circulation, and a sense of architectural intrigue.

The ground floor offers a flexible work space geared towards messier activities such as sample processing, repair of equipment and preparation for extra-vehicular activities (EVAs). Image © Plompmozes
The second floor, acting as the main social hub, features the main laboratory/ dry lab as well as the kitchen. Image © Plompmozes

The habitat is split over four levels, with a “garage” at ground level, dry lab and kitchen “hub” at second level, individual cabins and hydroponic pond at third level, and bright recreational “skyroom” at fourth level. Each level has at least one window, combining to create a full 360-degree panorama. The layout is designed to accommodate the strict flow of tasks throughout a Martian day, while also serving as an evocative space to aid social and mental health.

The third level features the most private zones including private sleeping pods and bathroom. Semi-closed pods offer a zone to retreat to without promoting total isolation. Image © Plompmozes
The skyroom is the uppermost level. Standing below the large water-filled skylight, this level offers a place for the crew to exercise, relax and socialize without tasks. Image © Plompmozes

AI SpaceFactory will now proceed with the MARSHA project by constructing a 1:3 functional prototype of the habitat, for the next level of the NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. News of the scheme comes at a time of heightened interest in life on Mars, with extraterrestrial visions recently put forth by Elon Musk and Foster + Partners.

A scale model of Marsha, shows how the inner and outer shell relate to one another. Image © AI SpaceFactory
A detail view of the interior of the scale model showing the sleeping pods on the third level. Image © AI SpaceFactory

The involvement of architects and designers in investigating how humans could inhabit Mars has perhaps taken on greater significance given the exciting discovery, announced on the day of this article’s publication, that researchers have found evidence of an existing liquid water "lake" on Mars.

Astronauts observe the construction of a new habitat. Image © Plompmozes

News via: AI SpaceFactory

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Cite: Niall Patrick Walsh. "NASA Endorses AI SpaceFactory's Vision for 3D Printed Huts on Mars" 25 Jul 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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