NASA is wanting to get to Mars and they need the publics’ help. They recently launched their latest Centennial Challenge and the goal this year is devise a way to construct a habitable structure on the planet Mars using 3D-printed material. $2 million in prize money is up for grabs so there will be no shortage of contestants. This is the 3rd phase of an on-going contest with previous years focused on architectural concepts and material components. This phase will be an actual on-site competition with the contestants being asked to come up with an autonomous adaptive manufacturing process using indigenous materials. In short, NASA wants to be sure when we do get humans up there someday, they will be able to construct shelters quickly using the planet’s native resources instead of having to rely on constant resupplies from Earth (examples of such material being clay, sand or gravel).
While it has been 48 years since man first set foot on the moon, space exploration is experiencing a mini-renaissance with the rise of private companies looking to strike gold in the darkest reaches of the universe, such examples being Elon Musk and SpaceX or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic which hopes to be a charter for future space tourists. NASA’s call for private aid is fueling the birth of a whole new industry and 3D printing is allowing small and medium-sized companies to construct rockets, satellites, spacecraft and more that would have never been possible outside of a giant government lab with thousands of engineers and billions in R&D.
Another historic milestone will be made this week as a 3D printed satellite will be launched into space by NASA thanks to the work of students at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) and Caldwell High School in Idaho. This satellite will be carrying multiple 3D printing materials; ABS, PLA, nylon, and PEI/PC Ultem. These materials will be delivered to the International Space Station so the scientists and astronauts on board can test their resiliency and usefulness in space for future missions.
The rapid advancement in 3D printing and aerospace really proves that one small step can turn into one giant leap for mankind.
Benedict. “NASA kicks off $2M 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Phase 3: On-Site Habitat Competition.” 3ders.org, www.3Ders.org, 8 Nov. 2017,
“NASA Opens $2 Million Third Phase of 3D-Printed Habitat Competition”, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Scott, Clare. “3D Printed MakerSat Gets Ready to Test 3D Printing Materials in Space” 3DPrint.com, 3DR Holdings, LLC, 7 Nov. 2017,