In March 2016 NASA awarded three prizes for proposals on the use of in situ Martian resources to construct habitats for astronauts.
The focus of the proposal was on using Martin regolith to build the habitat as opposed to earlier proposal which envisioned using regolith to shield a habitat brought from Earth.
This approach would have an extremely significant impact on the journey to Mars.
“ . . . for every kilogram of native materials used, one saves 11 kg of transportation propellant and spacecraft mass required to launch to Low Earth Orbit . . .”
NASA estimates the cost of lifting one kilogram into Low Earth Orbit to be US$110,000. Building habitats on site rather than carrying them there results in cost savings which can be channeled into the science aspects of the mission. Continue reading “Journey To Mars: Where astronauts might live when they get there”