Where We Began
RedWorks was founded to compete in NASA's 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. Our team studied simple construction principles of ancient cultures, such as pit houses and pueblos, as well as organic structures found in nature like those found in the shell of the nautilus. The team then adapted those principles to work best with the available resources on the surface of Mars. Our vision has been shared by members of the 3D printing community, and has gotten our habitat into the Finals of the AmericaMakes 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.
Construction Principles for Mars
The first principle of the team’s design is the utilization of the regolith not only as an in-situ resource for building material but also as a protective barrier from the wind, harmful fines, and radiation. This is achieved by first excavating down and subsequently 3d printing up from the base of the excavation pit. This method effectively purposes the first 10 meters of the construction site as a secondary shield to protect the bulk of the habitat from the elements it would otherwise be exposed to on the surface. Furthermore, by using organic incremental construction methods and generative algorithms our shelter's basic layout can be adapted to produce a suitable structure around existing geological constructs, such as lava tubes, crater rims, fossae, open pits, and crevasse, as well as any unknown structures not apparent from orbit. This algorithmically adapted organic construction can open up areas for expanded settlement from the initial habitat by making use of what is already present in the Martian landscape.
The RedWorks initial architectural concept combined the structural benefits observed in the Fibonacci spiral pattern of a nautilus shell and the simple design of a pueblo, maximizing internal volume without exceeding the cap on the area of living space. Future iterations refined this concept's basic design, reducing the surface profile against wind erosion and the number of structural failure points with a smoother design.
RedWorks continued to develop the nautiloid habitat design from the Initial Concept, improving on the generative algorithms used to propagate the structure. These changes allow the team to smooth out the walls of the living space for what is effectively one continuous curve, reducing the number of failure points for the pressure vessel that is the habitat. Water storage tanks were added to the thicker parts of the habitat's walls to reduce print time and improve survivability. The central support shaft has further evolved to function with the archways of the structure for better support. In addition, the team developed a more sophisticated organic model of the internal structure, with each level revolving around the central support shaft like a spiral staircase.
The internal structure of the Habitat is laid out like a spiral staircase along the nautiloid structure, which is divided into sections that serve a range of functions. The sections are in turn divided into levels that serve as a modular configuration for living space, with each level configured for a specific function.
The top levels of Section 1 provide utilities for engineering maintenance of the habitat and surface activities. The subsurface levels of Section 2 provide living quarters and recreational areas, as well as the bulk of food production. Sections 3, provides facilities for geology and life-science labs. Section 4 serves as a final utility and life support level for waste reprocessing and emergency life support and environmental control systems. While less than 1000 ft^2 are for actual living space, there is over 600 ft^2 of additional space for storage and emergency life support.
RedWorks' habitat design was among those chosen from over 160 other teams to enter the finals of the Habitat Challenge's design competition at the New York Maker Faire in 2015. We challenged conventional wisdom about Mars habitat design with a simple question: Why don't we just print everything on-site? RedWorks did not win the design challenge, but that idea resonated with people, and we're committed to bringing ISAC technologies to Earth and Mars.
Bringing it Back to Earth
After the conclusion of the Habitat Challenge's first phase, RedWorks returned to our habitat designs and began looking to the next phase of NASA's challenge. As time went on our team continued to make improvements to our technology and began to evolve into a company. We have built strategic relationships across the NewSpace industry and with business leaders like AT Kearney in the terrestrial real-estate sector, to work to create technology Made for Mars that can be used first on Earth.