Architecture and technology company AI SpaceFactory has completed the autonomous construction of MARSHA, a proposal for a Martian surface habitat for NASA. The 3D printed shelter is one of five finalists in an international competition to design and build a habitat for a crew of four astronauts on a mission to Mars. AI SpaceFactory formulated their own material – a “Martian polymer” that can be made from matter found or grown on the planet.
Using state of the art robotics and their proprietary polymer, AI SpaceFactory is contending for the final top prize to print a sub-scale habitat in the third and final phase of the construction competition. The 1:3 scale prototype will be printed in front of a live audience at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, from April 29 to May 4. In five weeks, AI SpaceFactory progressed from basic tests to an autonomously-printed large-area slab validated by NASA in November 2018. Four weeks later the team successfully printed, in only 24 hours, a large cylinder designed to hold twelve-hundred gallons of water complete with prefabricated wall penetrations robotically placed and sealed “on the fly”.
AI SpaceFactory describes MARHSA as a first-principles rethinking of what a Martian habitat could be — not another low-lying dome or confined half-buried structure, but an airy, multi-level environment filled with diffuse light. This innovation challenges the conventional image of “space age” architecture by focusing on the creation of highly habitable spaces tuned to the demands of a Mars mission.