First 3D printed simulated Mars surface habitat constructed

There's lots to do ahead of future NASA crewed missions to Mars. One of the tasks NASA and its contractors are working on is a place for astronauts to live on the surface of Mars. Icon 3D has announced that it has 3D printed the first simulated Mars Surface Habitat. The habitat was designed by architecture from called BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Earlier this month, Icon, a company that develops advanced construction techniques including robotics, software, and building materials, announced that it had won a subcontract for the NASA Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) for the development of a 3D printed habitat. The habitat is called Mars Dune Alpha and was created at the Johnson Space Center.

Construction of the habitat used the Icon Vulcan construction system to create a 1700 square-foot structure. The design simulates an actual Mars habitat that will support humans living on the surface of the Red Planet in the future. CHAPEA will include a trio of year-long Mars surface mission simulations conducted in Houston, Texas, at the Johnson Space Center. The goal is to provide insight and information to help NASA assess its space food system and both behavioral health and performance outcomes for future missions.

Research from Mars Dune Alpha simulations will be used to help NASA develop risk and resource trades for supporting the health of the astronauts on the mission and for meeting mission goals. NASA perceives a future where humans live on the surface of Mars for extended durations.

Any Mars habitats could be 3D printed, likely using resources available on the surface of Mars. It would be impossible to send traditional building materials from Earth to Mars, so NASA and astronauts exploring Mars have to use materials available on the Red Planet. NASA has been taking applications for people to live in one of the structures for a year.