Foster + partners imagines mars exploration with modular habitats

foster and partners
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Imagining a settlement on mars constructed using an array of pre-programmed, semi-autonomous robots, foster and partners have released their entry for the 3D printed habitat challenge organized by america makes and NASA.

Proposed by the international practice’s new york office, their modular habitat ‘envisions a robust 3D-printed dwelling for up to four astronauts constructed using regolith – the loose soil and rocks found on the surface of mars.’calculated to every meticulous detail, the outer-space residence would be delivered in two stages prior to the arrival of the astronauts. the modules themselves would measure 93 sqm and carefully takes into account human physiology and psychology to instill a comfortable living environment for the astronauts. the overlapping dome-like spaces will be composed of private and communal spaces and finished with soft-based materials.

the architects detail how the deployment of their habitat will happen:

‘three different kinds of robots are parachuted to the surface of mars, each performing a specialized task within the large-scale regolith additive construction (rac) process. the larger ‘diggers’ create the crater by excavating the regolith, which the medium-sized ‘transporters’ then move into position over the inflatable habitat modules layer by layer. the loose martian soil is then fused using microwaves around the modules using the same principles involved in 3d-printing by several small ‘melters’. the fused regolith creates a permanent shield that protects the settlement from excessive radiation and extreme outside temperatures. the separation of tasks amongst the large number of robots, and the modularity of the habitat means a high level of redundancy is incorporated within the system – if one robot fails, or a single module is damaged, there are others that can fulfill its task, increasing the chances of a successful mission.’

the habitat will be delivered in two stages prior to the arrival of the astronauts

the habitat will be delivered in two stages prior to the arrival of the astronauts


the semi-autonomous robots select the site + dig deep crater, followed by a second delivery of the inflatable modules


the construction is designed to take place with minimal human input, relying on rules and objectives


finished with ‘soft’ materials and enhanced virtual environments, which help reduce the adverse effects of monotony


foster + partners new york is one of 30 finalists within the competition


the proposal visualized as connected, geodesic dome-like modules