via Fast Company
As NASA and the private space industry race to put people on Mars, architects and industrial designers have already begun looking ahead to where humans will live once we get to the Red Planet. For example, last year NASA held an architectural competition to design a 3D printed habitat on Mars that could house four astronauts. The winning design was the Ice House, a luminous plastic igloo sheathed in a protective layer of ice.
But the challenge of building a comfortable, live-able environment doesn’t just start when the astronauts reach Mars. The journey is estimated to take six to eight months in a transit habitat, followed by an 18 to 20 month stay on the ground — until the planets align for the same return trip.
Then there’s the unsettling possibility that when the crew gets to Mars and starts to orbit, they find they’re unable to land due to dust storms or other hazardous weather. If that happens, “there is the potential that they will be required to live in a transit habitat” — the environment inside of a spacecraft where astronauts live during their journey — “for up to three years,” says Michael Morris, one of the architects on the team behind the Ice House.
What happens it the transit habitat becomes, well, just the habitat?