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3d-Printed Space Habitats Earn $400k in Prizes at NASA Competition

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Source: Tech Crunch

One of the many considerations we will have should we decide at last to colonize another planet is where we’ll live. Should we bring inflatable habitats? Should we ship girders and metal sheets? Or should we, as explored in a recent NASA challenge, 3D-print the structures right there on the planet in question? Two universities’ early efforts to do so earned them a combined $400,000 at a competition held last week.

It’s not the first nor last of these challenges, but the culmination of phase two of the three-phase 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The idea is to figure out what materials, designs and other choices might factor into creating a strong, simple structure.

Beams, cylinders and domes were what the teams had to create, with materials that were at least 70 percent “indigenous material” — so something that could be found locally. After all, you don’t want to have to ship a bunch of concrete mix to Phobos.

The winning teams both chose “powdery Crushed Basaltic Igneous” as their indigenous base; the team from Branch Technology augmented this with recycled plastic, while Penn State attempted (with partial success) to create a cement-like material that incorporated water.

Read the full story here.

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