3D printer company MakerBot announced the winning entries in the Makerbot Mars Base Challenge.
NASA is working on manned missions to Mars in the coming decades, and private space companies like Mars One and SpaceX will likely beat NASA to it. Regardless of who sets foot on Mars first, the impending manned missions have scientists, companies and space enthusiasts contemplating potential habitats for future Mars explorers and colonists.
In May 2014, MakerBot announced the Makerbot Mars Base Challenge and solicited submissions from creators. The company directed, “Taking Mars’ extreme cold, high radiation levels, lack of oxygen, and frequent dust storms into consideration, design a utilitarian Mars base that can withstand the elements and maybe even make you feel at home, despite being 140 million miles away from Earth, on average.”
Entries came in as soon as the contest was announced, but the company was surprised by the flood of submissions uploaded on the last day of the contest, which doubled the number of entries at the last minute.
More than 200 entries were submitted between May 30 and June 12, via MakerBot’s Thingiverse, which the company describes as “a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things.” The designs were sent to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after the submission period closed, where the top three entries were selected.
Third place was awarded to Chris Starr for his Mars Acropolis–a futuristic design inspired by the ancient Greek Acropolis. This design uses a three-tiered structure, placing oxygen generators, supply tanks and the computer mainframe on the lower level. The landing dock/hangar, living quarters and laboratories are on the second level. Meanwhile, the upper level serves as the observation outpost and the communications, and control center. The Mars Acropolis also features three massive greenhouses.
Valcrow won second place for the Martian Pyramid–a structure using triangular geometry focusing on efficient usage of essential systems to prevent waste of limited resources. This design employs a mirror-based solar collector to generate energy. Food is generated at the top of the pyramid via a sustainable closed aquaponics system.
Noah Hornberger took first place for his Queen B–a hexagonal design with all the comforts of home. This design minimizes the exposed surface area, which will help reduce heating expenses. The compact and modular design of the units make them easy to build, replicate and maintain. And the units are intentionally designed to be appealing to the general public, complete with a kitchen, two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a garden, a useful 3D-print lab, a lounge, laundry and a decompression/mud room.
Hornberger was awarded a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer as his first place prize.