During the Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend NASA and America Makes announced a new Centennial Challenge. The 3D Printed Habitat Challenge asks competitors to develop 3D printing solutions that can help construct off-Earth habitat using materials either found at the site, reused from the mission, or some combination. Put another way, NASA would like to build a habitat without having to haul the building materials from Earth.
There has been some 3D printing done in space, but this challenge would require printing on a much larger scale. There are three phases to this challenge: Design, Structural Member and On-Site Habitat. For now, the focus is on the Design phase.
Interested parties have until July 15 to submit their registration package, which includes an architectural sketch of the proposed habitat and description of the construction approach. Each submission will be evaluated by a jury and those selected to continue will have to send in a full architectural design concept. Teams might as well have the full concept ready, as the deadline for those will be August 3, not long after the registration packages are due. Judges will select 30 entries for final review and judging at the New York Maker Faire, held September 26-27.
For more details on the design phase of the challenge, including rules and registration requirements, consult the Challenge website. Details on the other two phases of the challenge will not likely be available until the registration opens for those competitions in late September. While top prize in the design phase is $50,000, top prize in the other phases is $1.1 million.