A New York-based design and architecture agency has won $500,000 from NASA after 3D-printing a home for astronauts living on the Moon or Mars.
AI SpaceFactory went head-to-head with Pennsylvania State University during a four-day competition, at which their challenge was to 3D print a one-third scale building, with as little human interference as possible, made out of materials that could be found on Mars.
AI SpaceFactory built theirs from a biodegradable and recyclable biopolymer basalt composite, which includes elements grown from crops. Pennsylvania State University used a customised concrete mix.
The constructions were subjected to tests including being subjected to smoke to see if there were holes in the buildings and having weights dropped on them. An excavator vehicle was then used to push down on the constructions to test their strength. Pennsylvania State University's construction shattered but AI SpaceFactory's remained intact.
NASA began the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge in 2015, with the idea of planning for sustainable space missions but also to provide viable housing solutions on Earth.