NASA Opens Third Phase of 3D Printed Habitat Challenge

The goal is to develop technologies needed for future missions to Mars or the moon.

NASA has launched Phase 3 of its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which seeks ways to create or develop technologies needed to create off-world habitats for the agency's upcoming missions to Mars, the moon, and perhaps beyond. Those astronauts will have to construct habitats on site, and NASA, with its partner, Bradley University, is inviting teams to register and compete in this phase.

Phase 1 asked participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts, and it was completed in 2015. Phase 2 concerned the manufacture of structural components and was completed in August 2017. Phase 3: On-Site Habitat Competition challenges competitors to fabricate sub-scale habitats using indigenous materials, with or without mission-generated recyclables, and offers a $2 million total prize purse.

Registration opened Nov. 7, and teams may register through Feb. 15, 2018. Submissions are due in 2018, and the on-site competition will take place April 29 through May 4, 2018, according to the timeline.

"The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring," said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA's Centennial Challenges. "The solutions we seek from our competitions are revolutionary, which by nature makes them extremely difficult. But this only fuels our teams to work harder to innovate and solve."

Bradley University President Gary Roberts said the school is honored to be the challenge partner again. "Bradley prides itself on experiential learning and student engagement," he said. "This challenge isn't something our students can learn about in a textbook or in a classroom. This is a forward-thinking concept coming to life, and they have a chance to see it firsthand. They will meet the people making it happen and learn about the ideas that are fueling innovation. This could change the way they imagine the future and push their creative limits."

In addition to NASA, Bradley University has partnered with sponsors Caterpillar Inc., Bechtel, and Brick & Mortar Ventures to run the competition.

For more information about the program, visit http://www.nasa.gov/winit. The rules are available here.

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