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NASA finds 3D-printed houses we could use on Mars

The space agency's years-long competition to find a house suitable for Mars is up to its third and final phase.

Team AI. SpaceFactory of New York's second-place winning design in NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.
Goodwin, Taylor L.

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and more talk big about getting humans on Mars. NASA, meanwhile, sorts out what those new Martians are going to live in.

The space agency last week announced five finalist teams who've designed sustainable shelters for Mars' atmosphere and landscape, designs capable of being 3D-printed given the limits of transporting materials to the Red Planet. All teams take a share of this level of the competition's $100,000 prize money based on judges' scores.

This is just one of three phases of the years-long 3D-Printed Habitat Competition starting in 2014. NASA called out teams of designers around the world for Mars-suitable houses, putting them through an architectural renderings phase and a structural components phase. Now comes a third phase involving five levels, two virtual and three construction. The total prize money for all five levels is up to $2 million.

For the two virtual levels, which the competition is up to now, the teams use Building Information Modeling software to bring their designs to life. There are five videos showing the winners' digital representations, in order of how they placed:

1. Zopherus, Arkansas

2. AI SpaceFactory, New York

3. Kahn-Yates, Mississippi

4. SEArch+/Apis Cor, New York

5. Northwestern University, Illinois

Next for the finalists are the three construction levels, where they'll have to 3D print their habitat to one third of its final scale. Good luck!