Some days ago, NASA was announcing the launch of a competition meant to gather viable answers on how to sustain life on Mars for 500 days, with no help from Earth. The challenge is now taken to the next level, unfolding the second chapter from the best-selling show: They want us to envision the structure of a Mars habitat.
Participants will be challenged to design and build a 3D printed habitat for astronauts who will be sent to Mars. This is the first step taken into the housing solutions for earth direction. We all know shelter is the most basic need for humans and astronomers find it easier to gather together ideas and build-up a plan than to consume precious resource on a mission that would unnecessarily take the place in cargo that could be used for something far-reaching.
The biggest difficulty in the construction of a space colony lays in the financial back-up needed to ship the building materials we need. The price for delivering even irrelevant quantities of materials in outer space is almost impossible to bear. This project requires consistent investments for an improbable outcome in the near future. The risks are high, the money is low but alternatives can be found, reason why NASA calls for public challenge.
The first phase of the competition asks participants to develop state-of-the art architectural concepts that can fully take advantage of the great potential 3D printing offers. From all submissions, the judges will only select 30 of them to be considered. Winners will be awarded $50.000 at the 2015 World Maker Fair in New York.
The second phase of the competition delves into more substance and complexity. It consists of two levels: The structural Member Competition and the On-Site Habitat Competition.
So, the first one is about fabric. What kind of fabric would provide enough protection and shelter in order to help us build human existence from scratch? Participants need to focus on the fabrication technologies they need to manufacture structural components from a combo of earth materials and recyclables or materials from our planet alone.
The second one is the farthest reaching. We need to construct full scale habitats using earth materials or recyclables with earth materials combined.
The challenge separation by phases is perfectly conceived. We will have the visual perspective, the reality of a fabric strong enough to provide shelter and maintain life and the general ensemble, steady enough to gather together the above. The last two levels of the second chapter in the competition are both rewarded with $1 million dollars.
Ideas come first, realities after. Life on mars, that once was just an idea behind a song, now becomes a probable life perspective.
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