A team from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) was honored by NASA for their work in a contest using 3D printing to create housing options not only on Earth, but also in space.
The ERDC-CERL team, serving as judges throughout the competition, was awarded the 2020 NASA Silver Achievement Medal, which is awarded to Government and non-Government individuals or teams by NASA Center Directors for a stellar achievement that supports one or more of NASA's Core Values, when it is deemed to be extraordinarily important and appropriate to recognize such achievement in a timely and personalized manner.
The team included many personnel from NASA and industry, along with ERDC-CERL employees Dr. Michael Case, Megan Kreiger, Eric Kreiger, Russ Northrup and Dr. Pete Stynoski. The awardees were presented with a certificate signed by the NASA Administrator and a Silver Medal.
“We are proud of the work that the team has done and for their achievement in receiving this prestigious award,” said Dr. Andy Nelson, director of CERL.
The contest, known as the 3D-Printed Habitat (3DPH) Centennial Challenge, prompted participants to use additive construction technology to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth, the Moon, Mars and beyond. These capabilities could be used on Earth to construct affordable housing where it is needed and access to conventional building materials and skills is limited. Local indigenous materials (dirt, clay, sand, etc.) could be combined with readily available recyclable materials and used to construct semi-permanent shelters against environmental elements for human habitation. The challenge began in 2015 and was completed in May 2019.
The $2.5 million competition produced 3D-printed habitats for deep space exploration and culminated during two phases at the Caterpillar Educational Center in Edwards, Illinois. ERDC-CERL participated as both part of the planning committee and judges for all phases. The X phase focused on printing cylinders, beams and a complicated dome in an autonomous manner, while the Y phase focused on the print structure. The competition motivated companies around the world to compete upon the idea of printing structures on the moon or Mars.