Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On August 6th 2021, ICON of Austin, Texas announced that it would be collaborating with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to design and build a 3D printed 1,700-square-foot structure named Mars Dune Alpha, which would simulate living in a future habitat on the surface of Mars. (ICON is a construction technologies company, BIG is an architecture firm.) This would be done in support of NASA’s CHAPEA, which is a series of 3 one-year-long missions at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas that are designed to simulate living on the Martian surface. (CHAPEA is short for Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog.) This is intended to provide insight into future space missions, including assessing NASA’s space food system.

The layout of the structure would be organised with 4 private crew quarters at one end; dedicated stations for work, medicine and food-growing at the other end, and shared living spaces in between. In addition, ICON argued that a mixture of fixed and movable furniture would enable the crew to reorganise the building in accordance with their daily needs, and that customisable lighting, temperature and sound controls would help maintain the crew’s well-being.

The same day as ICON’s announcement, NASA revealed that it was recruiting for the first CHAPEA mission, which is set to start in Autumn 2022. It also proclaimed that the habitat would simulate the challenges of a mission on Mars, including limited resources, equipment failure and communication delays.

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Disclaimer: NASA does not endorse 3D Rapid Print’s existence, actions and/or use of the featured image of “Martian habitat with colonists.” NASA copyright policy states: “As a government entity, NASA does not license the use of NASA materials nor sign licensing agreements. The agency generally has no objection to the reproduction and use of materials it has made available to the public (audio transmissions and recordings; video transmissions and recording; or still and motion picture photography),” subject to restrictions that can be read here. 3D Rapid Print does not claim copyright or other rights to the image.