Foster + Partners wins $100,000 NASA competition for 3D-printed habitat

A team consisting of Foster + Partners and Branch Technology has been awarded first place in the latest phase of the NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which aims to devise a way of using autonomous robots to print shelters on alien worlds.

Phase 2 of the competition is broken down into three levels, each focusing on a different structural challenge. This award covers the Phase 2.1 part of the competition, which is organised by NASA and Bradley University, a private college in Peoria, Illinois.

The final shelter will be a complex assembly of smaller building elements, however the focus throughout the stages of the challenge is to design and test prototype building elements that can help demonstrate the suitability of the entire process from manufacture to construction and structural performance.

As part of this stage of the competition, teams were asked to use recycled mission materials and simulated Martian soil to 3D-print a truncated cone and a cylinder, which were then subjected to compression testing to assess their suitability as structural components.

Foster + Partners has been looking at the engineering geometry of the structures, and Branch Technology has brought its expertise with 3D-printing materials.

The team will now tackle the 2.2 submission at the end of May, in which a beam will be printed to test spanning structures.

Images courtesy of Foster + Partners

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