Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Design a habitat which utilizes additive construction advantages over traditional construction.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $50,000
Type of Challenge: Creative (design & multimedia)
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, America Makes
Submission Start: 05/16/2015 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 07/15/2015 11:59 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge seeks to develop the fundamental technologies necessary to manufacture an off-world habitat using local indigenous materials with the optional to add mission recycled materials. The long-term vision is that habitat-manufacturing machines could someday be deployed to the Moon, Mars or beyond to autonomously prepare shelters for the human explorers who follow. On Earth, these capabilities could be used to construct affordable housing wherever needed – where access to conventional building materials and skills are limited.

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge was formulated in conjunction with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (aka America Makes). America Makes is the Allied Organization, thus the final arbiter and executioner of all tasks, for the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. Centennial Challenges Program is providing the prize money for the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge will be conducted in two phases: the Design Competition, followed by the two additive manufacturing, or construction, competitions – Level 1 and Level 2 Competitions (to be released in September 2015). Any registered competing individual or team may participate in any or all of the competitions under the umbrella title 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

The Design Competition is an architectural design activity which invites competitors to design a habitat which utilizes additive construction advantages over traditional construction. The Design Competition will open registration May 16, 2015, and finalize composite scores on September 27, 2015. Potential competitors will submit a registration package. Accepted competitors will continue to the next step of the Design Competition by submitting a Design Entry. The top 30 competitors will be notified that they may proceed to the next (and final) step of the Design Competition. The top 30 competitors will then finalize the Design Entry and 3D-print a habitat design subscale model.

The 3D subscale model will be displayed at the NYC Maker Faire from September 24, 2015 to September 27, 2015. A composite score will be determined using the Judges’ scoring and public appeal, resulting in an overall ranking. Prizes will be awarded during ceremonies at the NYC Maker Faire on September 27, 2015.

The Design Competition will award a first place prize of $25,000, a second place prize of $15,000, and a third place prize of $10,000 (all provided by CCP). America Makes is considering adding additional prizes, such as People’s Choice Award, Honorable Mention, Best in Class, and a Participant Award.


First Place
Cash Prize Amount: $25,000
The design with the highest composite score will receive $25,000.

Second Place
Cash Prize Amount: $15,000
The design with the second highest composite score will receive $15,000.

Third Place
Cash Prize Amount: $10,000
The design with the third highest composite score will receive $10,000.

People’s Choice Award
The design determined by popular vote of models displayed at the 2015 New York Maker Faire.

Honorable Mention
For outstanding designs that did not make it into the top three ranking.

Best in Class
For best architectural concept, best use of space, and best technical proposal.

Participant Award
Awarded to all competitors who submit a final entry.


1.0          Definitions
1.1.         3D Printing – See Additive Manufacturing
1.2.         Additive Manufacturing – Synonymous with the term “3D Printing”. Any process used to produce a three dimensional physical object by deposition of material.
1.3.         Automated/Autonomous – The use of machines, mechanisms, and technology to make processes or systems run without human guidance or power.
1.4.         Indigenous – Originating in and characteristic of a particular region.
1.5.         In-Situ Resources – Indigenous materials that pre-exist at the construction site, or recyclable materials produced from the waste stream of the mission or supply chain.
1.6.         Recycled/Recyclable Materials – Used or waste materials that may be processed for reuse.
1.7.         Semi-Autonomous –This term refers to a system which is automated but may require some human interaction to perform basic functions. For instance, a semi-autonomous 3D printing system may require human interaction to perform certain control decisions and maintenance functions.
1.8.         Team – an individual, or group of individuals, submitting a design entry for competition. There is no limit to the number of individuals on a Team.

2.0          3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Overview
2.1.         The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge seeks to develop the fundamental technologies necessary to manufacture an off-world habitat using mission recycled materials and/or local indigenous materials. The vision is that autonomous habitat manufacturing machines will someday be deployed to the Moon or Mars to construct shelters for human habitation.
2.2.         On Earth these same habitat manufacturing capabilities could be used to produce housing wherever affordable housing is needed and access to conventional building materials and skills is limited. On Earth, it is envisioned that local indigenous materials (dirt, clay, sand, etc.) could be combined with readily available recyclable materials and used to construct semi-permanent shelters against environmental elements for human habitation.
2.3.         The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials. The challenge is broken into three parts as described below. This document will focus on the requirements and rules associated with the Design Competition only. The complete 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge rules, including Level 1 and 2, will be made available Fall 2015.
2.3.1.     Design Competition - focused on developing innovative habitat architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities that 3D printing offers.
2.3.2.     Structural Member Competition (Level 1) - focused on the core fabrication technologies needed to manufacture structural components from indigenous materials combined with recyclables, or indigenous materials alone.
2.3.3.     On-Site Habitat Competition (Level 2) - focused on the fabrication of a full-scale habitat using indigenous materials combined with recyclables, or indigenous materials alone.

3.0          Design Competition Vision
3.1.         Meet our (fictional) NASA crew of four, who have been chosen for their grit, grace and intellect to be the first humans ever to step foot on Mars. As they prepare for their long journey to the red planet in 2035, they are undergoing a training program wherein they will reside in approximately 1000 ft2 of living space for 1 year. Their new adopted home should contain everything needed to comfortably sustain human life, including cooking areas, sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities. Their jobs as geologists, land surveyors, prospectors, scientists, biologists, & engineers should also be considered while creating this structure, as it will act as a prototype for the one that they'll reside in while on Mars.
3.2.         This Earth-based training habitat must be constructed by the group, semi-autonomously, using 3D-printing technologies and in-situ resources. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to design this habitat for our crew to use in this training exercise.
3.3.         NASA has completed past studies which may be used as references. New technologies and approaches (such as 3D printing) will enable new approaches and mission architectures in the future, so these documents should be treated as references only – improvements are sought and encouraged. The references are made available on the challenge website (

4.0          Design Competition Rules
4.1.         Each team, or individual, admitted to the challenge shall generate an architectural design concept for a habitat. The design must fulfill the habitat needs of four astronauts as described in 3.1.
4.2.         All architectural design concepts must be self-supporting structures that incorporate a foundation. Additionally, invited competitors must provide a 3D-Printed scaled physical design model of their concept for on-site final judging at the 2015 New York City Maker Faire. Therefore, the architectural design concept must be self-supporting in 1 Earth gravity.
4.2.1.     The 3D-Printed model may be constructed using any current additive manufacturing process and material, so long as the final product is safe for public display.
4.2.2.     The 3D-Printed model must meet size requirements as described in 5.4.4.
4.3.         Competitors are required to provide novel, functional, and efficient, architectural design concepts that are enabled by innovative 3D-printing techniques for construction.
4.4.         Designs may include up to 1000 ft2 (92.9 m2) of living space. The use of this space must be optimized for the comfort and utility of four resident astronauts. Consideration should be given to life sustaining needs, research tasks, and recreational activities.
4.5.         Competitors must specify the region on Mars where the ultimate habitat will be constructed, and propose a suitable analog location for the Earth-based training habitat described in 3.2. As on Earth, Mars has environmentally favorable and hostile regions. Competitors should use reference material to become familiar with Martian weather and/or latitude advantages.
4.6.         Designs must include a minimum of three 45 ft3 (1.3 m3) spaces allocated for Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) equipment. ECLSS equipment will be needed to provide such things as clean water and oxygen, but also regulate air quality, pressure, and temperature. Current ECLSS systems take up approximately 1.3 m3 space.
4.7.         The design should focus on the habitable structure. While submission of detailed electrical, plumbing and ducting plans are not required, locations of electrical outlets, fluid supplies and drains, and ventilation registers should be included.
4.8.         The interior of the 3D-Printed model must be viewable. The 3D-Printed subscale model must incorporate a removable section so that the habitat interior design may be viewed by judges and spectators.

5.0          Design Submission and Competitor down select Process
5.1.         Not all competitors who register will be admitted into the final design competition to be held at the 2015 New York City Maker Faire. There will be a down selection process as described below. The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge schedule as posted on the competition website ( should be referenced for deadlines and closure dates.
5.2.         Invitation to Compete:
5.2.1.     Only those competitors who receive an invitation to compete will be admitted to the competition. Invitations will be based on an evaluation of the 2-page proposals submitted with the registration package.
5.2.2.     Proposals must be a maximum of 2 single sided (letter size format) pages and shall describe the team’s experience, credentials, and an initial architectural concept. The concept must include an architectural design concept sketch, and description of the 3D-printing construction approach.
5.2.3.     A jury will review the proposals and the selected competitors will be invited to submit a full architectural design concept.
5.3.         Review of Full Architectural Concept and down select to top thirty (30):
5.3.1.     All competitors who receive an invitation to compete must develop a full architectural design concept per the instructions below.
5.3.2.     Teams admitted to the competition will be given an identification number. The identification number is the only permitted identification allowed on any competitor submission.
5.3.3.     All full architectural design submissions must be a maximum of five (5) single sided text (letter size format) pages, and five (5) single side (A2 size format) drawing sheets to explain habitat design aspects. All pages must be included in a single (maximum 10 pages) PDF submission with the identification number as the file name.
5.3.4.     The top thirty (30) rated submissions will be down selected by a jury. These submissions will advance to the final round of judging at the 2015 New York City Maker Faire.
5.4.         Final Submission for the Top thirty (30) Competitors
5.4.1.     Competitors chosen for advancement to the final competition at the 2015 New York City Maker Fair must submit final architectural design concepts.
5.4.2.     Teams admitted to the final competition will be given a new identification number. The identification number is the only permitted identification allowed on any competitor submission.
5.4.3.     All full architectural design submissions must be a maximum of five (5) single sided text (letter size format) pages, and five (5) single side (A2 size format) drawing sheets to explain habitat design aspects. Drawing sheets should be used to showcase overall interior design and any features made possible by 3D-Printed techniques. All pages must be included in a single (maximum 10 pages) PDF submission with the identification number as the file name.
5.4.4.     A 3D subscale model of the design must be submitted on a panel no smaller than 8” length X 8” width X 8 height, and no larger than 14” length X 16” width X 18” height. It must be identified only by the team identification number.
5.4.5.     All entries will be put on public display after being judged. Competitors will be credited during public display of their entry after judging. The 3D subscale models will be available for pickup after public display and judging. Any 3D subscale model not picked up, or provided return instructions and postage, will become property of America Makes and/or NASA.

Judging Criteria

Architectural Design Criteria
The final competition will be judged by a panel of subject matter experts and Very Important People (VIP’s). This jury panel will judge the submitted entries per the scoring criteria stated below. Each criterion should be carefully developed and illustrated using text and graphics. 1. Architectural concept and design approach 2. Architectural implementation and innovation 3. Documentation 4. Habitability 5. 3D-Print Constructability 6. Innovation 7. Functionality 8. Energy Efficiency 9. Mars Site Selection 10. Public Appeal The criteria will be weighted to determine a final composite score. Architectural concept and design approach, Architectural implementation and innovation, and 3-D Print Constructability will have HIGH weight factors. Habitability, Innovation, Functionality, and Energy Efficiency will have MEDIUM weight factors. Documentation, Mars Site Selection, and Public Appeal will have LOW weight factors.

How To Enter

Data Submission and Registration


1.     All Challenge document submissions shall be written in Helvetica font style with minimum 12 point font size. Arial is a suitable substitute when Helvetica font style is not available.

2.     Document submissions shall be in Adobe portable document format (pdf).

3.     Hand written or drawn documents shall be scanned into Adobe pdf with minimum 400x400 dots per inch (dpi) and maximum 600x600 dpi.


1.     All Challenge submissions shall be sent to the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge email address ( The subject line should be ‘3D-Printed Habitat Challenge’.

2.     Submitted documents will be routed to appropriate points of contact (Judges, Subject Matter Experts, etc.) At no point will Competitor Team Intellectual Property (IP) be passed to anyone not involved with Challenge administration.


1.     An individual, or team, must submit a Team Agreement (available on challenge website) and a two page proposal, as described in 5.2, in order to compete in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge – Design Competition.

2.     Upon acceptance, individuals or teams must submit a Design Entry as described in 5.3.

3.     If an individual or team is selected as one of the thirty (30) finalists, then the individual or team must submit proof of insurance as described in the Team Agreement, a final Design Entry as described in 5.3, and a 3D-Printed subscale model as described in 5.4.