Multi-planetary architectural firm AI Space Factory has been awarded first place in the NASA Centennial Challenge with its innovative 3D-printed design, MARSHA. The 15-foot-tall, pod-like design was digitally printed using a base of biodegradable and recyclable basalt composite derived from natural materials found on Mars. Not only does the concept envision a sustainable and resilient design that could meet all the demands of a Mars mission, but the interior living space would be modern and bright, complete with indoor gardens.
The New York-based company managed to beat out 60 challengers that submitted designs for NASA’s Centennial Challenge, which looks for sustainable housing concepts for deep space exploration, including Mars. The MARSHA habitat was designed specifically with the desolate Martian landscape in mind, but it could be potentially viable for any environment.
The prototype was built out of an innovative mixture of basalt fiber extracted from Marian rock and renewable, plant-based bioplastic, with three robotically placed windows. The materials used in the construction not only stood up to NASA’s pressure, smoke and impact testing, but the structure was actually found to be stronger and more durable than its concrete competitors.
In contrast to most designs created for Mars, MARSHA is a vertical shape comprised of various levels. The interior spaces are designated by floor, with everything needed to stay indoors for extended periods of time if necessary. Living and working spaces would feature a “human-centric” design that would see modern yet comfortable spaces lit by diffused light. There would also be ample space for indoor gardens.
CEO and founder of AI SpaceFactory David Malott explained that the inspiration behind MARSHA was to design a resilient structure that would be sustainable for years to come. “We developed these technologies for space, but they have the potential to transform the way we build on Earth,” Malott said. “By using natural, biodegradable materials grown from crops, we could eliminate the building industry’s massive waste of unrecyclable concrete and restore our planet.”
Images via AI Space Factory