NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge that kicked off in 2015 has challenged teams around the U.S. to render, prove the structural integrity, and construct a model of a habitat that could one day shelter humans on the surface of the Moon or even Mars.
And yesterday, NASA crowned the top three winners of the Challenge's latest round, challenging the participating teams to "complete a virtual construction level." The top three teams, which split a prize of $100,000, hail from New York, Arkansas, and New Haven — and their designs are bold visions of off-world habitation.
The winner of this round of the Challenge is team SEArch+/Apis Cor for a vertical habitat design that can be continuously reinforced with additional 3D printing. Light enters through circular ports around the outside and the top.
Second place goes to Team Zopherus for a design that would be constructed by a roving 3D printer.
Team Mars Incubator was awarded third place. Its pods are made out of hexagonal pieces of 3D printed plates consisting of polyethylene, fibers, and locally sourced regolith, could one day house a team of astronauts.
It's a fascinating competition that paints an incredibly detailed picture of what the future of Moon or even Mars exploration could look like one day — and we've never been closer to that future.
More on the Challenge: Here Are The Finalists For NASA's Mars Habitat Design Competition