Think you can come up with a design for a Mars habitat that can be cranked out by a 3D printer sent to the Red Planet? Then NASA wants to hear from you—and you could have a crack at $2.25 million in prizes.

A shelter for astronauts to live in on Mars will be a crucial mission need, but taking the material and equipment needed to build one after arrival would use up critical storage space in any spacecraft headed there, NASA said in announcing its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.

The ability to build a habitat once on Mars using just raw materials on the planet's surface, along with no-longer-needed parts of the spacecraft, which could be recycled, would free up much of a spacecraft's cargo space for critical life-sustaining provisions, the space agency explained.

The first phase of the multi-part habitat challenge will look at submitted architectural concepts that would use 3D printing to create a 1,000 square-foot living habitat for four astronauts.

The top 30 submissions will be judged, and a prize purse of $50,000 will be awarded to the winner at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York.

"The future possibilities for 3-D printing are inspiring, and the technology is extremely important to deep space exploration," said Sam Ortega, program manager for NASA's Centennial Challenges, of which the habitat challenge is but one part. "This challenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currently capable of, and we are excited to see what the maker community does with it."

A second phase, a Structural Member Competition, will judge proposed fabrication technologies that will create components from indigenous materials or recyclables or both.

In a third phase, an On-Site Habitat Competition will challenge competitors to demonstrate the fabrication of a full-scale habitat here on Earth, using indigenous materials or indigenous materials combined with recyclables.

The second and third phases of the challenge will each carry a $1.1 million prize.

One of the requirements of the challenge is that the habitats are not manually constructed but are capable of semi-autonomous building; NASA has proposed pre-populating Mars with self-constructing habitats in preparation for manned missions.

"[Mars astronauts'] new adopted home should contain everything needed to comfortably sustain human life, including cooking areas, sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities," NASA said in laying out the central aim of the challenge, with a focus on the creation of a test habitat here on Earth.

"Their jobs as geologists, land surveyors, prospectors, scientists, biologists and engineers should also be considered while creating this structure, as it will act as a prototype for the one that they'll reside in while on Mars," the agency added.

NASA has released information on the rules and registration procedure for the contest.

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