While RedWorks did not win the AmericaMakes design challenge, we may have done something more impactful: we showed people that 3D printing is more than a novelty, that it can be the bedrock technology for colonizing Mars. Our team pitched the idea that 3D printing didn't have to be an extra feature when it could create an entire habitat and make Mars a world anyone could settle, and the reaction has been overwhelming positive.
When talking about establishing a permanent base on Mars, conventional thinking is that Mars will be a purely scientific outpost. This rationale is reflected in the designs of most Mars bases; essentially, you land a titanium double wide on the surface which has everything the astronauts will need. The problem is, in space, every ounce of material costs a fortune to get off the ground, so a conventional habitat would limit access to Mars to governments and the super-rich. For Mars to be the next frontier, then just like the generations of pioneers, fortune seekers, and trail-blazers before us, we will have to bring the essentials in a Martian covered wagon and build a homestead with what we find in the surroundings. RedWorks is creating the toolkit for anyone to set up a colony on Mars. Wherever someone lands, a habitat can be tailor made to make the most of the available land and materials. Our team's design can do this by using generative algorithms, mathematical equations that can change the dimensions of our habitat on the fly to make the most of any caves or lava tunnels present. In other words, the system is adaptable enough for would-be colonists to make the most of what’s already there.
There are endless possibilities for the daring few who will make the first trek to the red planet, and RedWorks wants to supply the homesteaders of Mars with the tools to immediately adapt and take advantage of their new world. For example, if a colonist is lucky enough to stumble upon the opening of an underground Martian cavern, the printer would be able to build a habitat that would seal the cave off from the rest of Mars. Better still, while this original structure is being used to house the first group of settlers, the 3D printer will be off printing more buildings, or closing off more of the lava tube. So, while the first group settles into their new home, more farm space, more living space, and more tools are being created. Below the Martian surface, each habitat’s life-support systems would be working to provide breathable air, heat, and water for the cavern. Eventually, that first habitat would become the gateway to an underground village, complete with its own ecosystem; a colony that anyone can build.
RedWorks vision for a Martian frontier has resonated with everyone we’ve been lucky enough to meet and speak too, but to make this vision a reality, we have to start building on what we’ve already accomplished. RedWorks is going to enter the next phase of the AmericaMakes design competition, and as a matter of fact we’ll be entering just about any competition that calls for innovative solutions to the challenges of space exploration. RedWorks intends to use these challenges as incentive for creating technologies that will have an immediate impact here on Earth, and aide human colonization of the solar system. Mars habitat 3d printers could be adapted to build low-cost housing for disaster relief and poor communities, rapidly-deployable structures for the military, or starter homes for new families. Our algorithms could produce more cost-efficient small satellites for satellite internet, university and government research projects, military communications networks, and swarms of space probes to explore the solar system. In short, whatever we develop for Mars will be immediately felt as a market-ready benefit here on Earth. Our next step is to start building hardware, and creating the new technology for use in both on and off-Earth applications. Look for us to be starting our funding campaigns to reach these new milestones, and help us make Mars humanity’s next frontier.