Community Information

What is it?

The NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program. It is being hosted by Bradley University in conjunction with Caterpillar Inc., Bechtel and Brick and Mortar Ventures. During this three-phase competition, teams are competing to develop technologies to build a habitat on Mars by using 3D printing technologies and mission recycled materials as well as local indigenous materials.

How does it work?

Teams use 3D printers to build habitats for Mars. The 1st phase was to design a habitat. The winning design was awarded on September 27, 2015 to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for their design, titled Mars Ice House.

The second phase includes three stages to create and test components that will be used to build the habitat. The first stage was to build and test a cone and a cylinder. On April 27, 2017 the University of Alaska at Fairbanks team and Foster + Partners I Branch Technology team took home top honors. The second stage was to build and test an I-beam. On June 20, 2017, Moon X Construction and FormForge took home top honors in that phase of the competition.

The third level will take place August 23-27, 2017 when teams will repeat the printing of cones, cylinders, and I-beams, and then build a miniature dome that will be tested to see how they withstand certain loads and pressures that would be found on the red planet.


The goal of this program is to advance critical systems needed for human space exploration to Mars and deeper into the solar system than ever before. There are Earthbound impacts too, including potentially revolutionizing the way construction is done. This technology could be used in third world countries or locations difficult to reach. Printers could be taken to remote areas and sustainable habitats could be printed within days.

How does it benefit our community?

The 3D-Printed Habitat NASA Centennial Challenge provides an unparalleled opportunity for Bradley’s students and faculty to network, create relationships with mentors and explore new ideas as they partner in creating solutions for our world and beyond. Real-world learning opportunities like this position students to develop new, innovative and disruptive ideas that could change the future while enhancing their overall educational experience.

The Peoria-area is home to Caterpillar's Global Research and Development Headquarters, which have been the hub of research and development at Caterpillar since 1962. Highly-trained engineers, scientists, technologists and experimental mechanics work on a nearly 800-acre campus that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They're engineering the future of construction, mining and energy and transportation needs right here in central Illinois.

Hosting the program positions Bradley, Caterpillar and Peoria as a place where innovation thrives.

Who can compete?

Unfortunately, Bradley students are not eligible to compete because the University is hosting the competition. Teams can come from most anywhere but international teams are not eligible for the prize money.


Teams from around the world will compete in the final level of the Phase 2 Challenge, August 24-26, 2017, at the Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center.

How can I attend?

You can see it for yourself and be a part of the NASA 3D Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge on August 26th. Join us from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center to experience this incredible competition in person.

Watch the teams as they print and test components that could one day be built to house our astronauts on the Red Planet. You can experience interactive displays from NASA, Caterpillar, Bradley and others. Plus meet an astronaut, see an actual moon rock and try your hand at a brand new video game that’s out of this world.

Registration is required. Click here to reserve your spot for Community Day. There is limited capacity for this event.

Help us welcome these teams from around the world to our hometown and be a part of something amazing and potentially world changing!