It’s the year 2028, and humans have finally made it to Mars. However, inhabiting the planet is no easy task, as the environment is incredibly hostile. NASA has turned to construction technology firm ICON to assist in creating human habitats using 3D printing processes designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to make life on Mars more sustainable. The first structure is now being printed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This 1,700 square-foot habitat will serve as an exploration analog for NASA’s STMD program.
The participants will be subjected to a year-long simulation of life on Mars in fall 2022. The challenges will be as authentic as feasible, including simulated equipment failure, communication blackouts, intentionally restricted resources, and other planned difficulties. The crew in training continues working and studying, while the astronauts in training continue their research and training. The findings of this experiment and two additional year-long trial run that will follow will be used to plan a real Mars mission.
“Through this habitat study, we will be able to provide NASA with data that will help them develop long-term space exploration guidelines, and as a result may lay the groundwork for a new Martian vernacular,” adds Bjarke Ingels. “Mars Dune Alpha will help us get one step closer to achieving interplanetary.”
The Mars Dune Alpha habitat is divided into private living quarters, workstations, medical stations, food-growing stations, and shared living space. The project’s ceiling heights vary across different areas, with a significant arch design intended for specific locations.
Mars Dune Alpha is not the only NASA project BIG and ICON are working on. Project Olympus explores how 3D printing may be utilized using only lunar materials on the moon.