Illinois school involved in printable Martian homes contest

CHICAGO (AP) — A central Illinois university is a key player in an ongoing competition aimed at deploying 3-D printers to build habitats on Mars if and when humans travel to the red planet.

The Chicago Tribune reports Sunday that Bradley University in Peoria is a partner in the 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge organized by NASA. Several companies are also involved as sponsors.

The competition started in 2015 and entered Phase 3 in November. NASA has launched nearly 20 competitions since 2005 to involve outside institutions in developing aerospace innovations.

Any Mars-bound spaceships couldn’t carry lots of materials, so one challenge is for competitors to propose ways of using materials found on Mars.

The idea is also for advances achieved through the competition to be used in building cheaper, printable homes on Earth.