Fiske, Michael R, Carrato, Peter, Roman, Monserrate C, Prater, Tracie J, Edmunson, Jennifer E, and Mueller, Robert P
International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2019; Oct 21, 2019 - Oct 25, 2019; Washington, D.C.; United States
NASA's Centennial Challenges program uses prize competitions with the goal of accelerating innovation in the aerospace industry. Competitions in the Centennial Challenges portfolio have previously focused on advancements in space robotics, regolith excavation, bio-printing, astronaut suit design, small satellites, and solar-powered vehicles. NASA's Three Dimensional (3D) Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge represents a partnership between NASA and the non-profit partner: Bradley University, with co-sponsors Caterpillar, Bechtel, Brick and Mortar Ventures, the American Concrete Institute, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) to spur development in automated additive construction technologies. The challenge asks teams to design and construct a scaled and simulated Martian habitat using indigenous materials and large scale 3D automated printing systems. Phase 1 of the competition, held in 2015, was an architectural design competition for habitat concepts that could be 3D printed. Phase 2, completed in 2017, asked teams to develop feedstocks from indigenous materials and hydrocarbon polymer recyclables, and demonstrate automated printing systems to manufacture these feedstocks into test specimens to assess mechanical strength. This paper will discuss the Phase 3 competition, focusing on technology outcomes that can potentially be infused into both terrestrial and planetary construction applications. The Phase 3 competition was divided into two sub-competitions: 1) virtual construction, where teams created a high fidelity building information model (BIM) of their 3D-printed habitat design and 2) the construction competition, which required teams to 3D print a structural foundation and subject materials samples to freeze/thaw testing and impact testing (level 1), produce a habitat element and complete a hydrostatic test (level 2), and additively manufacture a 1:3 scale habitat onsite in a head to head competition at Caterpillar, inc.'s Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center near Peoria, Illinois over the course of three days (level 3). While the Phase 2 competition focused primarily on the development of novel feedstocks and robotic printing systems, Phase 3 emphasized the scale-up of these systems and autonomous operation (demonstrating the capability to operate systems on precursor missions prior to the arrival of crew, or terrestrially in field operation settings where human tending of a manufacturing system may be limited). The Phase 3 virtual construction levels yielded a number of novel habitat designs, including both modular habitats and vertically-oriented habitat concepts. The Phase 3 construction competition also challenged teams to autonomously place penetrations and interfacing elements in additively manufactured structures. The paper will emphasize potential applications for the new materials and technologies developed under the umbrella of the competition within NASA's portfolio and in Earth-based applications such as disaster response and infrastructure improvement.