New York’s AI SpaceFactory won NASA’s competition to 3D-print a habitat fit for Mars or the Moon, and for it to be built autonomously.

The multi-phased challenge is designed to advance construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth, with a total of $3.15m in prizemoney.

AI SpaceFactory’s winning construction titled Marsha–a long, slim building–reduces the construction rovers’ need to cover unfamiliar terrain through a telescoping arm attached, allowing it to stay still whilst building.

AI SpaceFactory’s Marsha is succeeded by its eco-friendly earth rendition called Tera; initially a crowdfunding-campaign-turned-reality, now a potential catalyst for change in building processes on earth.

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge saw first-place winners, AI SpaceFactory, take home $500,000, spending four days 3D-printing in the head-to-head competition against Pennsylvania State University of University Park.

Creating subscale shelters out of recyclables and materials that could be found on deep-space destinations like the Moon and Mars, the structures had to be one-third of their architectural designs.

Prioritising minimal human intervention, each team’s robotic construction techniques were to enable more sustainable and autonomous technologies for exploration missions in the future.

“The final milestone of this competition is a culmination of extremely hard work by bright, inventive minds who are helping us advance the technologies we need for a sustainable human presence on the Moon, and then on Mars,” says Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA’s Centennial Challenges.

Bradley’s Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology’s (an administer of the competition) dean, Lex Akers says, “It is an impressive achievement for these two teams to demonstrate this disruptive and terrific 3D-printing technology at such a large scale.”