3D-Printed Habitat Is Part of a Year-Long NASA Simulation of Living on Mars

Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICON

The habitat known as Mars Dune Alpha imagines what life might be like for humans on the Red Planet. Conceptualized by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), it was commissioned by NASA to test 3D printing techniques for human habitations. Now, their vision is becoming a reality as construction tech company ICON begins test prints of these structures at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The 1,700 square-foot structure will be completed to support NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) as part of  Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA).

The test will include a year-long simulation of life on Mars which will begin in fall 2022. The participants will experience trials as close to reality as possible and will include simulated equipment failure, communication delays, purposely limited resources, and other planned issues. All the while, the astronauts in training must continue their research and training. The results of this simulation, and the two other year-long trial runs which will follow, will help plan for a real trip to Mars.

Test 3D Print of Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICON

“The data gained from this habitat research will directly inform NASA’s standards for long-duration exploration missions, and as such will potentially lay the foundation for a new Martian vernacular,” says Bjarke Ingels. “Mars Dune Alpha will take us one step closer to becoming a multi-planetary species.”

The organization of Mars Dune Alpha includes private living quarters, workstations, medical stations, food-growing stations, and shared living space. Ceiling heights vary throughout the project with a large arch design planned for unique areas of the space.

Mars Dune Alpha is not the only project BIG and ICON are working on for NASA. Project Olympus seeks to understand how 3D printing can be used on the moon using only materials found on the moon.

Mars Dune Alpha, a concept for life on Mars designed by Bjarke Ingels Group for NASA, is 3D-printed by ICON.

Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICONMars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICONTest 3D Print of Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICONTest 3D Print of Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICONTest 3D Print of Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICONPlan for Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group for Nasa, 3D printed by ICON

BIG: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn
ICON: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
NASA: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Bjarke Ingels Group. All images via Bjarke Ingels Group and ICON.

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Samantha Pires

Sam Pires is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She is also a freelance architectural designer. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from NJIT and is currently earning a Master in Architecture II from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sam has design experience at multiple renowned architecture firms such as Gensler and Bjarke Ingels Group. She believes architecture should be more accessible to everyone and uses writing to tell unexpected stories about the built environment. You can connect with her online at @sampir.fi.
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