Texan construction firm ICON has been subcontracted to 3D print a habitat that accurately recreates the conditions future astronauts will experience when they visit the surface of Mars. Ft structure is set to be built using ICON’s Vulcan 3D printer, and deployed in long-term mission simulations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “This is the highest-fidelity simulated habitat ever constructed by humans,” said Jason Ballard, CEO of ICON. “We wanted to develop the most faithful analog possible to aid in humanity’s dream to expand into the stars. 3D printing the habitat has further illustrated to us that construction-scale 3D printing is an essential part of humanity’s toolkit on Earth, and to go to the Moon and Mars to stay.” ICON has scaled the use of its 3D printer, erecting an affordable housing community for the homeless in Latin America, as well as huge ‘vehicle hide structures’ for the U.S. Marines Corps. The pad itself was also produced from lunar regolith, thus in future, it could be 3D printed on the Moon, allowing NASA to reduce its costs associated with launching building materials into space. In preparation for its protracted analog study, NASA has now begun recruiting for volunteers to stay inside ICON’s 3D printed habitat. Featured image shows ICON’s Vulcan 3D printer installed at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

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