NASA Launches New Phase of 3D Habitat Challenge with $2 Million Prize

3D Printed Habitat Challenge logo
NASA has opened registration for Phase 3 of its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. (Image credit: NASA)

Registration is open for Phase 3 of NASA's 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, which searches for ways to create shelters for astronauts on locations such as the moon and Mars.

The $2 million prize for this phase encourages competitors to create miniature habitats using "indigenous materials" from the location at which the habitat is built. (An example of this would be lunar regolith, or soil, for a habitat on the moon.) There are five levels of competition; teams may register at this website through Feb. 15, 2018.

"The vision is that autonomous machines will someday be deployed to the moon, Mars or beyond to construct shelters for human habitation," NASA officials said in a statement. "On Earth, these same capabilities could be used to produce affordable housing wherever it is needed, or where access to conventional building materials and skills are limited." 

The competition has already seen two phases. Phase 1 focused on architectural concepts and was completed in 2015, while Phase 2 examined the manufacturing of structural components and finished in August 2017.

"The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring," Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA's Centennial Challenges, said in the statement. "The solutions we seek from our competitions are revolutionary, which by nature makes them extremely difficult. But this only fuels our teams to work harder to innovate and solve."

The competition is run as a partnership between NASA and Bradley University and includes sponsors Caterpillar Inc., Bechtel and Brick & Mortar Ventures.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: