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Arkansas Architect Wins NASA Design Competition for Mars Housing


by Tyler Hale

One Arkansas architect’s team recently won a NASA competition designing virtual habitats for Mars.

Architect Trey Lane of Rogers and his two teammates –Team Zopherus –  were awarded first place in the NASA competition, in which 19 teams from around the world competed. Of a total prize amount of $100,00, team leader Trey Lane and his two teammates will receive $20,957.

Team Zopherus’ winning design consists of three dome structures and another structure with spider-like legs. According to NBC, the latter structure is designed to function as a lander and 3D printer.

NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge is designed to “advance the construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond,” according to the agency’s website. The challenge, which was launched in 2014 with partner Bradley University of Peoria, Ill., is structured in three phases.

The first phase was a design competition, which required architectural renderings. This phase was completed in 2015. The second phase was the Structural Member Competition, which required teams to create structural components.

Lane’s team won first place in the third phase – the One-Site Habitat Competition – which required teams to create “sub-scale habitats” and featured three construction levels and two virtual levels. Teams were tasked with using software to design habitats with “allowances for both the structure and systems it must contain,” according to NASA. In the construction levels, the teams were required to 3D print elements of their design, which ultimately resulted in a one-third scale printed model of the habitat.

The top five competition winners are:

  1. Team Zopherus of Rogers
  2. AI. SpaceFactory of New York
  3. Kahn-Yates of Jackson, Miss.
  4. SEArch+/Apis Cor of New York
  5. Northwestern University of Evanston, Ill.

Read more about innovative Arkansas startups and individuals here.

(Photo courtesy of NASA and Team Zopherus)

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