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BIG and ICON reveal design for NASA’s 3D-printed research habitat on Mars
United States Architecture News - Aug 09, 2021 - 15:34 3011 views
Called Mars Dune Alpha, the new 3D-printed habitat will be a long-duration habitat on the crew’s Mars mission analog study inside the 3D-printed habitat. The 1,700-square-foot (158-square-metre) structure is currently located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group as part of a long-term collaboration with ICON, the new habitat is developed as part of part of NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) program, providing valuable insights and information to assess NASA’s space food system, as well as physical and behavioral health and performance outcomes for future space missions.
CHAPEA, is a sequence of three one-year Mars surface mission simulations at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Data gained from CHAPEA will use be used to simulations to inform risk and resource trades to support crew health and performance for future missions to Mars when astronauts would live and work on the Red planet for long periods of time.
"This is the highest-fidelity simulated habitat ever constructed by humans," said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO, ICON.
"Mars Dune Alpha is intended to serve a very specific purpose--to prepare humans to live on another planet. We wanted to develop the most faithful analog possible to aid in humanity's dream to expand into the stars. 3D printing the habitat has further illustrated to us that construction-scale 3D printing is an essential part of humanity's toolkit on Earth and to go to the Moon and Mars to stay."
As ICON stated, "life in Mars Dune Alpha will resemble the expected experience for those living in a future Mars surface habitat."
BIG designs an innovative structure that is arranged in "a gradient of privacy". The design will incorporate four private crew quarters that is located on one end of the habitat. On the opposite end, dedicated workstations, medical stations and food-growing stations are located, with shared living spaces found in between.
The structure will have varying ceiling heights that are vertically segmented by an arching shell structure. This also accentuates the unique experience of each area to avoid spatial monotony and crew member fatigue.
Inside, there will be a mix of fixed and movable furniture, allowing crew members to reorganize the habitat according to their daily needs. The interiors will have customizable lighting, be temperature-controlled, and sound-controlled – helping regulate the daily routine, circadian rhythm, and overall well being of the crew.
"Together with NASA and ICON, we are investigating what humanity’s home on another planet will entail from the human experience," said Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.
"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. Mars Dune Alpha will take us one step closer to becoming a multiplanetary species."
According to a press statement of ICON, NASA has already begun its recruitment for the long-duration Mars mission analog study inside the 3D-printed habitat, which will commence on Fall 2022.
In addition, ICON also received funding from NASA and launched “Project Olympus” to begin research and development of a space-based construction system to support future exploration of the Moon. As part of a government Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract, “Project Olympus” brought ICON and BIG together again to imagine humanity’s first home on another world.
ICON is currently working on its 3D-printed multi-home project in Austin, Texas.
Previously, ICON collaborated with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) on a new project to start off-world construction system on the moon, funded by NASA, after BIG previously joined the company as a new investor.
The world's first 3D-printed community houses in Mexico is one of the works of ICON launched in 2019.
All images courtesy of BIG/ICON
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