To colonize Mars, we will need to build habitats there. And current lumber prices aside, NASA will not be shipping a container of 2x4s and OSB sheets to the red planet. Instead the plan is to ship components that can be assembled into an enormous 3D printer on-site, with local materials somehow converted into a printable concrete-like substance.
To that end, NASA hired Bjarke Ingels' BIG to design Mars Dune Alpha, a speculative 3D-printed habitat for humans on Mars.
Then they contracted 3D printed construction pioneer Icon to print the 1,700-square-foot structure here on Earth, for testing purposes.
Now they're seeking four volunteers—just regular members of the public, not astronauts--to live in the thing, "Real World"-style, for a year. "Life in Mars Dune Alpha will resemble the expected experience for those living in a future Mars surface habitat," writes Icon.
"Designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, the layout of the innovative structure is organized in a gradient of privacy. Four private crew quarters will be located on one end of the habitat; dedicated workstations, medical stations and food-growing stations are located on the opposite end, with shared living spaces found in between.
"Varying ceiling heights vertically segmented by an arching shell structure accentuate the unique experience of each area to avoid spatial monotony and crew member fatigue. A mix of fixed and movable furniture will allow crew members to reorganize the habitat according to their daily needs, as will the customizable lighting, temperature, and sound control – helping regulate the daily routine, circadian rhythm, and overall well being of the crew."
How will they screen out the crazies, you ask? First off, applicants must be within the ages of 30-55, and are required to have a Masters degree in a STEM field, with at least two years of work experience; presumably if you've spent eight years pursuing technical knowledge, you're less likely to cure boredom by engaging in Johnny-Knoxville-like stunts. There's also a layer of psych testing, medical evaluations and physical fitness exams you'd have to pass, including a "long-duration flight astronaut physical."
Furthermore, candidates "must eat the spaceflight-like diet provided during the mission" and must be prepared to "provide requested biological samples on required days" (eww). Compensation is "available," but there's no word on the dollar amount, nor if they even pay you in Earth money.
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If this sounds like it's up your alley, you can apply here.