3D-printed house concept offers blueprint for living on Mars


August 19, 2014

The Queen B (Bioshielding) model, by Noah Hornberger won a competition hosted by NASA and MakerBot (Photo: Noah Hornberger)

The Queen B (Bioshielding) model, by Noah Hornberger won a competition hosted by NASA and MakerBot (Photo: Noah Hornberger)

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If humans successfully colonize Mars in the future, what kind of homes will they inhabit? NASA and MakerBot recently hosted a competition which tasked people with making a 3D-printed model home suitable for the Red Planet. Noah Hornberger won with his Queen B (Bioshielding) concept home, which offers food-for-thought concerning the future of interplanetary architecture.

Like the B-and-Bee festival shelter we recently featured, the Queen B model comprises a space-saving and modular honeycomb design that's flexible, durable, and compact – though in this case, the hexagonal modules are laid out flat rather than stacked up into the air.

"A building with outstretched arms, wings, nodes, or branches is not practical for long-term efficiency and stability" explained Hornberger. "It would be nearly impossible to keep warm due to heat dissipation through the venerable areas."

Each of the 10 modules measures 4.87 m (16 ft) in diameter, and they are arranged around a central lounge area that contains a couple of couches, a TV and a charging station. The modules themselves contain a kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garden, laundry room, and a 3D-printing lab.

The Queen B features a roof made from depleted uranium and other dense elements, which Hornberger reckons would reduce radiation to safe levels for those inside.

Since it gets rather chilly on Mars (the average temperature is around -80ºF/-60ºC), Queen B is placed atop a large subterranean container that's filled with water and heated with either an underground electric heater or a more exotic-sounding exothermic chemical reactor. This would keep the base of the home relatively warm, and the heated water would also be pumped into the Queen B's insulated walls and radiators.

Hornberger points out that having plenty of steam available opens the way for steam-powered generators, which could supplement any electricity harnessed with solar panels.

An underground air purification system handles the Queen B's air mixture into the Queen B, though Hornberger also sensibly says that a reserve tank of pure oxygen must be retained in case of emergency. As the plant life of the apartment continues to grow, the designer says it could be possible to reduce or even turn off the synthetic pumping in from oxygen generators altogether.

Obviously, the Queen B isn't going to be built full-size and shipped to Mars any time soon, and the model seems far-fetched at this point. Still, it's a compelling vision of what such homes could eventually look like, should a future Mars colonization indeed take place.

Source: MakerBot

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

Nothing new, looks like concepts that were in the old Horizons ride at EPCOT over 20 years ago.

Rann Xeroxx

I can insulate any shape I choose to. choose a shape for pressure retention. How ever you heat the water takes an energy source.


We had better first take care of our Earth instead of planning to go to Mars?

Harry van Trotsenburg

Update design, add skylights, viewports?? acess to dock center for shuttlepod for orbital insertion Test on land IE Disneyland CA park, EPCOT, Orlando FL

Stephen Russell

@Harry van Trotsenburg - If we do not do both simultainiously we will eventually reach the point of human extinction.

Ideally the vast majority of the human race would be exported off planet and the Cradle of Earth preserved as a biopreserve, but that is impracticle and unlikely due to religious and political issues, so pursuing better care of the ecosystem as well as creating independant human habitation beyond Earth are required to ensure the survival of the species.

Not to mention Reaching for Mars will make other bodies in the solar system accessible, which will make vastly larger pools of resources available.

I can't find it at the moment but there was a photo used to put the mind boggling ammount to resources into perspective. It featured an asteroid, and in the top right corner was a bright speck. The spec is a "moon" orbiting the asteroid. The Moon is bigger than mount everest and contains more iron and nickel than have been mined in the entire history of humanity. A tiny "moon" orbiting an average asteroid...

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