3D-Printed Habitat Challenge by NASA

Submission: August 03, 2015
Registration:  July 15, 2015
Language: English
Location Concept
Prizes: 1st Prize: $25,000, 2nd Prize: $15,000, 3rd Prize $10,000


The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials. The challenge is broken into three parts as described below.

This document will focus on the requirements and rules associated with the Design Competition only. The complete 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge rules, including Level 1 and 2, will be made available Fall 2015.Meet our (fictional) NASA crew of four, who have been chosen for their grit, grace and intellect to be the first humans ever to step foot on Mars. As they prepare for their long journey to the red planet in 2035, they are undergoing a training program wherein they will reside in approximately 1000 ft2 of living space for 1 year. Their new adopted home should contain everything needed to comfortably sustain human life, including cooking areas, sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities. Their jobs as geologists, land surveyors, prospectors, scientists, biologists, & engineers should also be considered while creating this structure, as it will act as a prototype for the one that they’ll reside in while on Mars.

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge seeks to develop the fundamental technologies necessary to manufacture an off-world habitat using mission recycled materials and/or local indigenous materials. The vision is that autonomous habitat manufacturing machines will someday be deployed to the Moon or Mars to construct shelters for human habitation.

On Earth these same habitat manufacturing capabilities could be used to produce housing wherever affordable housing is needed and access to conventional building materials and skills is limited. On Earth, it is envisioned that local indigenous materials (dirt, clay, sand, etc.) could be combined with readily available recyclable materials and used to construct semi-permanent shelters against environmental elements for human habitation.

This Earth-based training habitat must be constructed by the group, semi- autonomously, using 3D-printing technologies and in-situ resources. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to design this habitat for our crew to use in this training exercise.

NASA has completed past studies which may be used as references. New technologies and approaches (such as 3D printing) will enable new approaches and mission architectures in the future, so these documents should be treated as references only – improvements are sought and encouraged. The references are made available on the challenge website (americamakes.us/challenge/references).Design Competition Rules

Each team, or individual, admitted to the challenge shall generate an architectural design concept for a habitat. The design must fulfill the habitat needs of four astronauts.

 All architectural design concepts must be self-supporting structures that incorporate a foundation. Additionally, invited competitors must provide a 3D- Printed scaled physical design model of their concept for on-site final judging at the 2015 New York City Maker Faire. Therefore, the architectural design concept must be self-supporting in 1 Earth gravity.

The 3D-Printed model may be constructed using any current additive manufacturing process and material, so long as the final product is safe for public display.

Competitors are required to provide novel, functional, and efficient, architectural design concepts that are enabled by innovative 3D-printing techniques for construction.

Designs may include up to 1000 ft2 (92.9 m2) of living space. The use of this space must be optimized for the comfort and utility of four resident astronauts. Consideration should be given to life sustaining needs, research tasks, and recreational activities.

Competitors must specify the region on Mars where the ultimate habitat will be constructed, and propose a suitable analog location for the Earth-based training habitat described in 3.2. As on Earth, Mars has environmentally favorable and hostile regions. Competitors should use reference material to become familiar with Martian weather and/or latitude advantages.

Designs must include a minimum of three 45 ft3 (1.3 m3) spaces allocated for Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) equipment. ECLSS equipment will be needed to provide such things as clean water and oxygen, but also regulate air quality, pressure, and temperature. Current ECLSS systems take up approximately 1.3 m3 space.

The design should focus on the habitable structure. While submission of detailed electrical, plumbing and ducting plans are not required, locations of electrical outlets, fluid supplies and drains, and ventilation registers should be included.

The interior of the 3D-Printed model must be viewable. The 3D-Printed subscale model must incorporate a removable section so that the habitat interior design may be viewed by judges and spectators.Design Submission and Competitor down select Process

Not all competitors who register will be admitted into the final design competition to be held at the 2015 New York City Maker Faire. There will be a down selection process as described below. The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge schedule as posted on the competition website (AmericaMakes.us/challenge) should be referenced for deadlines and closure dates


Only those competitors who receive an invitation to compete will be admitted to the competition. Invitations will be based on an evaluation of the 2-page proposals submitted with the registration package.

Proposals must be a maximum of 2 single sided (letter size format) pages and shall describe the team’s experience, credentials, and an initial architectural concept. The concept must include an architectural design concept sketch, and description of the 3D-printing construction approach.

A jury will review the proposals and the selected competitors will be invited to submit a full architectural design concept.


 All full architectural design submissions must be a maximum of five (5) single sided text (letter size format) pages, and five (5) single side (A2 size format) drawing sheets to explain habitat design aspects. Drawing sheets should be used to showcase overall interior design and any features made possible by 3D-Printed techniques. All pages must be included in a single (maximum 10 pages) PDF submission with the identification number as the file name.
A 3D subscale model of the design must be submitted on a panel no smaller than 8” length X 8” width X 8 height, and no larger than 14” length X 16” width X 18” height. It must be identified only by the team identification number.
All entries will be put on public display after being judged. Competitors will be credited during public display of their entry after judging. The 3D subscale models will be available for pickup after public display and judging. Any 3D subscale model not picked up, or provided return instructions and postage, will become property of America Makes and/or NASA.

Data Submission and Registration

All Challenge document submissions shall be written in Helvetica font style with minimum 12 point font size. Arial is a suitable substitute when Helvetica font style is not available.

Document submissions shall be in Adobe portable document format (pdf).

Hand written or drawn documents shall be scanned into Adobe pdf with minimum 400×400 dots per inch (dpi) and maximum 600×600 dpi.


All Challenge submissions shall be sent to the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge email address (challenge@americamakes.us). The subject line should be ‘3D-Printed Habitat Challenge’.

Submitted documents will be routed to appropriate points of contact (Judges, Subject Matter Experts, etc.) At no point will Competitor Team Intellectual Property (IP) be passed to anyone not involved with Challenge administration.


An individual, or team, must submit a Team Agreement (available on challenge website) and a two page proposal, as described in 5.2, in order to compete in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge – Design Competition.

If an individual or team is selected as one of the thirty (30) finalists, then the individual or team must submit proof of insurance as described in the Team Agreement, a final Design Entry as described in 5.3, and a 3D-Printed subscale model as described in 5.4.


The final competition will be judged by a panel of subject matter experts and Very Important People (VIP’s). This jury panel will judge the submitted entries per the scoring criteria stated below. Each criterion should be carefully developed and illustrated using text and graphics.

First Place $25,000
Second Place $15,000 
Third Place $10,000
People’s Choice Award – to be determined by popular vote of modelsdisplayed at the 2015 New York Maker Faire.
Honorable Mention – For outstanding designs that did not make it into the top three ranking.
Best in Class – For best architectural concept, best use of space, and best technical proposal.
Participant Award – Awarded to all competitors who submit a final entry.