NASA and ICON Create Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D Printed Habitat for Future Red Planet Missions

It may still be a decade or so away, but the goal of sending people to Mars is very much alive and humming, with a myriad of tests and programs going on at NASA and elsewhere.

One of the goals and challenges of surviving on Mars is providing a suitable habitat for those astronauts lucky enough to go. An option that looks increasingly realistic is to print the Mars base out of Martian soil, using innovative 3D printing technology.

ICON, in collaboration with Bjarke Ingels Group, has devised a massive 3D printer called Vulcan, and it’s creating a life-size replica of a Martian base for NASA, showcasing the viability of such technology.

And more than providing a habitat prototype, the structure will serve as a test dwelling for NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, or (CHAPEA). ┬áIt involves 3, one-year Mars surface simulations, where participants will have to survive within the parameters of the simulation, including NASA food systems, physical and behavioral studies, etc.

It’s an exciting step on the journey to Mars. Via DesignBoom: