Foster and Partners New York presented their design for a space camp on Mars. The conceptual project has been shortlisted for the Habitat Design competition organized by NASA and National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes. The 93 sqm project, signed by GAMMA (the name of the team of architects, industrial and academic partners), involves 3D-printing technology, and it would be realized by robots with local materials.
“The design of the habitat – carried out in collaboration with industrial and academic partners – envisions a robust 3D-printed dwelling for up to four astronauts constructed using regolith – the loose soil and rocks found on the surface of Mars.” – Foster and Partners stated.
The construction process would involve two phases. First, semi-autonomous robots would select the site, based on data collected by drones, that are currently being tested by NASA. These would dig a 1,5 m crater as a shelter for inflatable modules. Then, a second team of robots would excavate and fuse a regolith shell, with the help of microwaves – a typical 3D printing process. This would act as a “a permanent shield that protects the settlement from excessive radiation and extreme outside temperatures”, the practice explained. The interior space “would have overlapping private and communal spaces, finished with ‘soft’ materials and ‘enhanced virtual environments”.
“Given the vast distance from the earth and the ensuing communication delays, the deployment and construction is designed to take place with minimal human input, relying on rules and objectives rather than closely defined instructions”, the firm adds.
This is not Foster and Partners’ first “sci-fi” project. The architecture studio has previously designed a Moon base for a competition organized by the European Space Agency (ESA), also employing 3D-printing technology. A material sample has even been realized for the feasibility study.
The winner of the competition and of the 50,000 prize will be announced this weekend, on September 26, during 2015 World Maker Faire in New York.
By: Ana Cosma