Having designed many innovative buildings around the world, Thornton Tomasetti is taking its next venture to a far away land. As one of five teams selected by NASA to produce a prototype for a 3D printed habitat for a mission to Mars and deep space exploration, the multi-phase and year design competition seeks to develop new technologies to create sustainable housing in space and on Earth.

The structure needs to be a human habitation space that provides protection against the Martian weather, made with local materials or a combination of recycled waste from the mission, requiring minimal human involvement. Due to the atmosphere pressure and weather, the outer shell will adapt to temperature shifts whilst the pressurised internal shell will create an internal atmospheric pressure needed for human occupancy.

This part of NASA’s Centennial Challenge, the $3.15-million Mars habitat competition, was launched in 2014, inviting businesses to help develop solutions to problems of interest to the space agency and the U.S. As the team advances to Phase 3 out of 5, experts from NASA, academia and the construction industry will be judging the entries on criteria as functionality, innovation, habitability and constructability.

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