The Hassell design for human habitation on Mars has reached the final 10 of NASA’s 3D Printing Centennial Challenge.

This NASA competition sought perspectives from outside the traditional aerospace industry to explore how a human habitat could be designed, and delivered, on Mars using autonomous 3D printing technologies.

Hassell head of Design Technology and Innovation, Xavier de Kestelier, says the Mars Centennial Challenge is a welcome opportunity to apply a design centric approach to aerospace design.

“Designing for space exploration is typically very functional. It focuses on achieving maximum performance and maximum efficiency for technology and machines – but not for people.”

Ben Lewis, head of EOC’s Digital Design Team, says “We used highly sophisticated parametric design techniques to achieve a structure that provides maximum protection, while minimising the quantity of materials required and the amount of time the robots would need to build it.”

The robots would be sent to Mars a few years before the astronauts are due to arrive. These intelligent autonomous robots will have interchangeable roles, from battery storage to scout rovers, logistics to excavation and even 3D printing units all integrated with multiple cameras and sensors for navigation.

They can reconfigure themselves for a multitude of purposes ensuring prolonged usage beyond the initial build phases.

Once the astronauts land, they would rapidly construct the building’s interior using a series of inflatable ‘pods’ that incorporate all the living and working requirements for everyday life on Mars.

Responding to the challenge that every kilogram of equipment that is brought to Mars is hugely expensive to transport, astronauts would be equipped to re-purpose and re-cycle as much waste material as possible.