The Queen B (Bioshielding) 2 Bedroom 2 Bath Mars Apartment

by NoahHornberger, published

The Queen B (Bioshielding) 2 Bedroom 2 Bath Mars Apartment by NoahHornberger Jun 12, 2014

Challenge Winner


Long Live the Queen!


  • Fully functioning kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, garden, 3d-print lab, lounge, laundry, and decompression / mud room as standard features.
  • Heat retaining design with rugged roofing to deflect debris.
  • Depleted Uranium Panels to bring radiation to safe levels.
  • Aesthetic design makes attractive press and is good for promoting the mission and finding willing candidates.
    Queen B Mars Base Concept Map
    RADIATION PROTECTION: With continuous exposure to cosmic radiation, any design that fails to fully attenuate cosmic radiation will put occupants at great risks for cancer and other health problems like Sasquatch feet or extra ears.
    TEMPERATURE: On average, the temperature on Mars is about -80 degrees F. This means a design that cannot keep in heat well will end up costing too much to maintain and will end bitterly. A design with less externally exposed surface area will save energy in heating by reducing overall area that heat can escape.
    WINDS / STORMS: Less deadly than the first two challenges, but still quite mean, the frequent storms and winds require the design to be rugged. It must be built to sustain tensile and compression forces from any angle in the form of wind forces, air-born sand, rocks and debris. Wind should not be able to pass under any part of it, or structural damage and lifting may result.


    Queen B Mars Base Concept
    My solution is to use the tessellating hexagon due to its compactness and modular potential. I have extrapolated on the idea of a fully functional apartment on mars with all the modern amenities fit inside 16 foot diameter hexagons. I think that to present mars life to people and actually make it appealing to the public it needs to feel like home and reflect the lifestyle trends of earth living.
    A building with outstretched arms, wings, nodes, or branches is not practical for long-term efficiency and stability. It would be nearly impossible to keep warm due to heat dissipation through the venerable areas. Another aspect of the surface area problem is the cost and feasibility of creating cosmic shielding for strange shapes, convex nooks and curvatures. Everything needs to be shielded from the elements, and a structure made of flat panels is going to be the easiest to build, replicate, and maintain.
    The square prism would be an ideal shape for modules except that it does not posses the structural capabilities to bear extreme forces. A square prism under pressure distorts and ruptures easily.
    The hexagon, however can tile seamlessly like the square so it offers the space saving capabilities with the extra benefit of approximating the strength of a hollow column. The 60 degree angles of the hexagon tie a structure together far better than 90 degree corners.
    We are going to Mars! So why won't we be getting cancer?
    According to the data of nuclead.com, 2 cm (10 halving thicknesses) of depleted uranium reduces radiation passing through it by 1/1024 of it's original strength. Depleted uranium is also used in military tanks and weapons because of it's density and ability to resist shearing and shattering in the presence of great kinetic forces. This is why I would propose using depleted uranium (a waste product of creating nuclear weapons) along with other dense elements to create laminated panels that can be used to protect the outer surface of the mars apartment fortress.
    On nuclead.com there are several examples of how lead is laminated with plywood to create radiation shielding building materials. If depleted uranium is sandwiched between other materials, it's great density will do most of the work while the surrounding materials will block it's own radiation potential and also add to the cosmic radiation filter. Uranium is heavy, but it's potential to block radiation is too great to ignore. If superconducting for shielding proves to be effective and long-term stable, maybe the use of uranium can be lessened.
    An unmanned special delivery of uranium/lead panels that arrives prior to the construction crew would be ideal. Depending on the weight restrictions and capacities, several material deliveries could be made weeks prior to the arrival of humans.
    A large subterranean container will hold water and it will be heated with an underground electric heater or exothermic chemical reactor. The main purpose of this is to keep the base of the fortress warm and to create a heat barrier to the deeply frozen undercrust. Heated water energy will be pumped up into the insulated walls and into radiators. Having a large amount of steam could allow for steam powered generators to supplement the power created with solar panels.
    alt text
    Water will also be purified and conditioned for drinking and other uses.
    The outer 2.5 foot thick walls will act as an insulator to keep heat energy from easily dissipating outward.
    An underground air purification system will keep the air mixture controlled and cycled into the complex. A reserve tank of pure oxygen will always be on hand in case of equipment failure or emergency. As the plant life of the apartment increases, the synthetic pumping in from oxygen generators, pressurized oxygen tanks, and/or solid fuel oxygen generators can be turned down and possibly eliminated.


    This is quite a multifaceted challenge. I have tried to think through the theory of my design as much as possible and prove it with a printed model. I designed something that I would feel happy living in for a few years (at least).
    I have learned a lot and would like to thank the people at NASA and Makerbot for making this challenge possible.

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ha ha . . . I think there is a company making modular homes like this in Europe. They thought I ripped off their design but I've actually never seen it . . . You could always print these a bit bigger for a pimped out hamster cage!!

Wait wait wait, I saw this on Twitter, and you're telling me this ISN'T some future apartment concept? BULLSHIT, I want to live in one of these. I mean, talk about space efficient AND space age design. Oh well, at least I can print this out and put little figures in it to hope.

I like the way you think!!

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It took about 2 solid days of printing non-stop to make all the parts. This was because I was going on vacation and wanted to get it all done before I left. I have never printed anything like this and was impressed by the print quality of the small details. After I saw how well it was working, I started adding more details to subsequent parts, like the burners on the kitchen and the pairs of boots in the mud room. There's even an iphone on the charging area but due to my layer height of .25 it barely shows up in the print :P
Octave ABS Filaments.
Printed on an Up Plus 2 with OctaveTemp mod on Glass. I used a 50% acetone 50% ABS waste slurry to keep the parts sticking to the glass and to minimize warping.
Most parts require supports to print. I used the auto-supports of the UP Software.
Modeled in Maya. I can send Maya source files to anyone who is interested.

Wait wait wait, I saw this on Twitter, and you're telling me this ISN'T some future apartment concept? BULLSHIT, I want to live in one of these. I mean, talk about space efficient AND space age design. Oh well, at least I can print this out and put little figures in it to hope.

ha ha . . . I think there is a company making modular homes like this in Europe. They thought I ripped off their design but I've actually never seen it . . . You could always print these a bit bigger for a pimped out hamster cage!!

Forget mars. This is how we should build houses on earth. We would make our homes far more space efficient without giving up any of our creature comforts and make expanding a house much Easier. None of these compartments needs to be more than 8 feet across which mean you can easily transport 5 of them on a single big trailer or even 1 on a fairly small trailer. Having a baby? Just go down to the local warehouse and buy a nursery add on. Kids getting too big for the pre made nursery setup. Sell that module on ebay for pickup and then go pick up a module for a larger child. Or just modify the one you already have. All you have to do to start your house is get land and pour a concrete foundation either as big as the living room area for a super efficiency house or if you have plans to expand pour extra concrete around the sides for later expansion. Until you add those extra room you can use that extra pad as a sort of patio.

I like the way you think!!

Fantastic game for my little girl !!

Power of nature is unbelievable.Beehive pattern.

Instead of empty uranium, which would still cause health hazards. Have an electromagnetic field over the populous. The Deflector Shield from Star Trek shoots plasma into the magnetic field to deflect radiation and solar winds. Just saying.

This thing is awesome, Good job.

Sep 22, 2014 - Modified Sep 22, 2014
NoahHornberger - in reply to smitywa

thanks!! I had some fun with it

What is the Octave Temp mod and how do you download it? I'm quite new to 3d printing so I probably sound like a noob

Aug 26, 2014 - Modified Aug 26, 2014

it's actually a piece of hardware that hooks on to the up or up mini. http://www.amazon.com/Octave-Extruder-Setting-Temperature-Printers/dp/B00G31DLKQ/

the one at this link comes with a chart of all the various temps. you can dial it to about .5 of a degree to where you want it using the 8 switches to create the right resistance on the line to create the desired temperature.

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Am doing greatly printing out all this, it is so exciting to see it emerge bit by bit. Will soon post some pictures......

awesome. I am excited to see another make. Let me know if you run into any trouble with the .stl files . . . it was finalized in kind of a rush so there are things that might need to be improved. Let me know if you find any!!

Aug 22, 2014 - Modified Aug 22, 2014
heartphone - in reply to NoahHornberger

I will. Up till now have finished the four QB insulates, the steps and the mudroom. Had to resize everything a bit because I print on a UP! mini. Only resized the x and y values a little bit. It looks good. Will upload some pictures today of my progress, so you can see for yourself. I think I will run into trouble with the lounge. Have to take the measures exactly from the insulates, so I know how to resize it correctly......

> 60 degree angles of the hexagon

eh? or, 120 degrees perhaps ;-)

Also, considering lighting and energy saving, such a trick could prove to be very effective: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/dec/23/sunlight-bulbs-plastic-bottles-light Perhaps, at the center of the hexagon roof there should be provision for such a setup.

Finally, what about running a prototype on ground Earth?!

Aug 21, 2014 - Modified Aug 21, 2014
NoahHornberger - in reply to fgeorgatos

Also I do not think your idea for the plastic bottle light pipe is taking into consideration the actual conditions. Cosmic radiation is strongest from above and putting a hole in the top of each room is the opposite of what you want to do. You could possibly use fiber optics but not a hole in the roof with a pop bottle in it. Your link comes off as kind of spammy to me. And if you want to build a bigger prototype . . . .then go for it - you can even download the design files!

OK, let's forget about the original link, it was just sent to demo the point of rerouting solar energy; fiber optics or some other light path technique that does not let the harmful radiation in, would be a way to go!

If you build a hexagonal structure you will be using beams connected at hubs that are all measuring 60 degrees. Then put on 6 triangles and you have a hexagon. All the angles used for construction and strength calculation would be 60s.

I can't really see it working without an airlock of some sort - one could be attached to the 'mud room'. There needs to be a communication room, too, I'd think. A library, a rec-room separate from the lounge, an exercise room, a workshop or lab (unless those facilities are elsewhere), an office. A designated medical 'sickbay'. A bathroom should be right next to each bedroom. And there's no really 'personal space' where someone could go just to be alone (maybe just going outside would be enough?). But I keep wondering why they aren't trying to build underground. They wouldn't have to worry about storms as much and it might give extra radiation protection. Maybe not feasible in the beginning?

The mud room is the airlock. There are extra oxygen tanks on the ground . . . boots there too. It's were the pressure would be regulated from inside to outside. All the rooms you have imagined can be added with this modular concept. My idea was to separate the living quarters from the work area in this example so your lab and all that would just be in another facility next door. The idea here was to make an apartment, not a building that does it all. If it's underground or on a mountain the modular design could stay basically the same. My point is to demonstrate the conceptual framework for making habitable spaces, not to provide the ultimate design. I think people are getting caught trying to imagine the reality with all our current limitations attached. But imagine what mars would look like after people are living there for a while and it would b something like this. A first recon-post type design does not interest me because it has to serve everyone's ideas of the limitations. That's why I went out of the box and imagined the future instead. It's not entirely practical, but neither is the corporate culture at NASA surprisingly. I learned about how they operate from a cool presentation they did while I worked at Pixar. I was surprised to learn that NASA was highly involved in arts and schools and that it's not all about hard science. Its also about fostering young minds into discovery and innovation . . . so I tried to take all that into consideration

Hello Noah, Congratulations for the project. A Im an architect from Peru and my thesis project was a Mining Camp in the desert of Moquegua -Peru and I designed hexagonal modules also but constructed with recycled plastic... here is the link: http://www.domingoseminario.com/CAMPAMENTO-MINERO if you need more information do not hesitate to contact me.

I like the hexagonal modularization. the 2 full size bathrooms seems waste of space, instead I would plan room1-bathroom-room2 arrangement. The bathroom could be split to 2 halves having 2 doors from the common area. I would move the garden (and double-it) to adjacent to the mud room one side and laundry to the other. to address radiation, you could consider sinking underground and provide natural lighting via light shafts/mirrors if the roof as whole is dome shaped, how can you make the roof modular (per unit) as well?

Thank you all for the wonderful enthusiasm and cool ideas! If you liked this then you may like some of the items in my etsy shop called MeshCloud: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MeshCloud? . . . it's a bit of an experiment that has taken on a life of its own :)

You talk about how long it took to print, but how long did it take to design?

This is great and it would also be a beautiful futuristic dolls house for my grandkids. Am planning to print something of it out. It would be a great feature to implement in Minecraft too!!

yes good idea for kids! My kids kept taking the pieces as I was finishing the printing. I had to go searching trough the house to put it back together.

Oh, and by the way. I made a Space game in my younger days about journeying to Mars in the 3D Construction Kit, the first 3D Game developer in the market in the beginning of the nineties. Here is the link to the first of the 3 videos I was able to take of myself playing the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAyVKoAs6i8&list=UUsCRfAe5PmUaJeEzBaR7-_Q If you are interested you can find the other two sequels on my video channel :)

Lol :) Advantage of a grandparent: I can first print it out, glue it on a large plate and then give it to my eldest grandson. He is a fanatic minecraft player at the moment. Maybe I will inspire him to build a world around it....... Am now printing out a lot of those Steve characters in Minecraft for him and his friends. They love this stuff!!

Awesome design, congrats!

Really cool design

This makes me think of a board game based on such a setup. Perhaps a co-operative game to save the base or find the alien lurking about...

I love this design, very simple and practical! Design imitating nature, it's brilliant. Now if we could only get some giant robot wasps to fly to mars and make it for us.

Well, let's start with the pressure issue. Basically speaking, when you do pressure vessels, the necessary tensile strength is directly proportional to diameter. Thus, you can't keep doing things bigger without hitting material strength limits. And this requirement goes up surprisingly fast. The other issue is that if you do a single pressure vessel, any failure means LOC (Loss Of Crew). Having multiple compartments that can survive alone, is quite a feature. Besides, you have very limited volume and mass (currently only demonstrated to 1,000kg and 3m radios by 2m height. The Red Dragon mission might do 2tonnes, but is limited to a 2m wide by 3m tall cylinder. Which is a good reason to actually study inflatables. Also, working on Mars will be hard and difficult. You want to minimize installation effort. And thus, if you can send most of the equipment installed, it would be much better. Please remember that besides pressure you have to keep the O2 at around 0.3Bar partial pressure, CO2 below 0.06%, keep humidity at a certain rate (humans are a terrible vaporization machine), circulate and filter the air, heat the whole thing, and long list of etc. So, ideally, that should be sort of built into each module (or each other or so) and have them all connected together easily. Then you have to take into consideration that depleted uranium is a very bad radiation shield for humans. It does emit radiations naturally, and when cosmic rays hit it, it's actually more dangerous. Stick to polypropylene, and such light and useful materials. Nothing is cheaper than Martian Soil. And it has the added benefit of not being sensitive to UV rays, for example.

It's a 3D printing competition entry, not a NASA prototype lol.. chill out

Jul 18, 2014 - Modified Jul 28, 2014
NoahHornberger - in reply to baldusi

A toy car does not need fuel because it runs on the imagination of the child who drives it around. So it seems to me that I'm driving my toy car at full speed and you are here telling me what kind of fuel and oil it needs to run. I would rather leave the physics to the right people. For me this was just a fun way to learn about the capabilities of my new 3d printer. Thanks again for your interest in this project.

You did an awesome job man, great model and concept.

Thanks Geoffro! I just tried to have fun with it. There were a few things going into the idea: first, I had just been to Ikea and they had hexagons everywhere. And I was looking for a new apartment at that time. I saw some cool 3d renderings of a floor plan in isometric perspective and just went with it. . . . . I'm sure there will always be some controversy about the technical feasibility of some 'dreamy' ideas. 15 years ago no one would have believed we would all be surfing the web on handheld phone-computers.

I just know how smart the NASA folks are and I trust they could figure it out :) Plus I've seen my share of UFO's . . . and I know if that is possible then anything might as well be . . .

Very nice project. But please let me add some points that might need to be taken into consideration: The Martian atmosphere is about 1% of Earth's. Thus, all your habitable space should be a pressure vessel of at least ~1Bar (14.7psi). Yes, you can do with 0.3Bar of pure Oxygen, but then keeping the CO2 and humidity out is horribly difficult. Thus, you should think of your modules as much possible as pressure vessels. This doesn't means that the basic hexagon module is wrong, in fact, a cylinder within the hexagonal pattern with hemispherical tops and bottoms would be optimal. But think that the main effort will be not to explode (tensile), rather than implode (compression), like on 1G/1Atm in Earth. BTW, Mars gravity is 0.375 of Earth, so the structural strength for weight will improve by almost 3X. But you will have to add passages and connections (a lot like a sea ship) that are pressure tight. This should not be that bad, since once you connect the pieces the work is done and vacuum is an excellent thermal insulator. You will have to dedicate the lower dome to air and fluids circulation. And ideally the top dome should house lightning and data and power distribution. Then you have to consider mass. Each tonne on Mars surface might need 700tonnes of wet mass on the launch pad. So you'd better save as much as you can. This is a critical point about radiation protection. There are many types of ionizing radiation that are a health hazard. One issue is that heavy nucleus radiation, which is typical from cosmic rays and that is more abundant on Mars, generates secondary radiations when it hits a heavy element. Thus, it's better to use as much hydrogen as possible. Given it's leaky nature, I would recommend polypropylene. It requires more volume, but mass, cost and thermal insulation are much superior. But there's an element that's almost free on Mars: soil. If you simply fill the walls and ceiling with 1m or so of Martian soil, you'll have as good protection as you can get. It would require some form of bulldozer, or something like the Army uses for making Hesco Bastions. Regarding thermal issues, while the nominal temperature is something like -50C to -130C, the atmosphere is so thing that the main thermal transport is radiation. On practical terms, is not much worse than a 20C day here on Earth. I'm talking about insulation, you'd still need to heat the habitat.

Wow, thanks for your detailed analysis. I am impressed by your understanding here. From what I hear you saying, the pressure from within the enclosure would be another force that the design would have to operate under. My question is: does it really make sense to pressurize small tanks and connect them together when you can pressurize the whole system as a unit. Then the only air tight connections need to be the outer facing surfaces. So basically here I am thinking of the whole thing as one big tank, not several connected tanks. Then the rooms are not dealing with the pressures independently but collectively as a structure. I was thinking that a lot of materials and opportunity for technical problems would arise as you increase the number of surfaces that must be air tight. So what you are seeing in my apartment design is like the tip of the iceberg of a much larger pressurized tank that is mostly under the surface (including all the water and electrical and heating systems) I know that practically the issue then becomes how do these things get made. I have the sense that like the automobile or plane, after the forces are tested and overcome, the solution can take almost any form within a given range of possibilities. I also considered the soil solution and thought that if needed, it could just be buried underground. But imagine a world where hundreds or thousands of people are going to mars and the capability to bring along all the gear for massive uranium and lead laminated panels is not out of the question; but I am a dreamer, not a scientist. Thanks again for adding your knowledge here and pointing these things out, I am honored!

Thanks everyone for the positive comments and support. I've had a blast looking through all the entries!

Beautiful work! It looks like it could be a fun Mars play set! Add some little people, rovers etc and it would be a great gift for a young open mind ;) I feel like printing a copy myself and partially burying it in a sandbox (with red sand of course!).

in oposite way, we did not solve it in such details as you.. btw: interesting decision in your live... good luck with it

thanks for your comments too, since the Mars problem is so big I think everyone had to focus on a certain aspect. For example, I thought mostly about the design and not as much about how the design would be created. Some people thought a lot about how it would be constructed but used less time making the actual design. I think in an ideal project type setting there would be a team going back and forth on everything just to make sure nobody forgot anything. But as an individualized challenged we are forced to economize the problem with our own strengths, and thats what I tried to do here. I also think its fairly easy to take any design and say something like "robots would make it and such and such" so thats why I just focused on making something that had 3 levels of detail and overall appeal. Good luck with your design. As far as life . . . its all good so far!

hi Noah, thanks for comment at our project.. Your is quite interestening too.. THis was one of our 1st ideas, honeycomb, but we wannted to be more complex in terms of universal principles... we wanted to have no human created structure, whuch solves unexpected situations...

nice. They look like game pieces. Well thought out.

yeah it could be martian orcs vs. human colonists. i think a strategy game is in order . . .

This would be my choice. Well thought out. Great job. I hope you win.

Good thinking, If I was going to mars, I would try using this model

Very nice! It would be interesting to have some sort of connection system for [smaller, possibly optional] roof pieces so that the roof could be similarly adaptable to different modular forms, allowing for future expansion and maximum flexibility. Looks great in your color choices, too!

yes, great idea. Right now the big chunks helped me get it done fast, but it would be fun to have roofing for smaller arrangements. Thanks for your idea!

This was a lot of fun . . . comments are welcome!

This looks like a lot of fun. I hope to use your idea to combine 3D printing with my architecture class.

cool, just be sure you can add supports to the overhangs. I relied on the UP PLUS auto-generated supports and it really pushed what I thought my printer could do. In some places the extra details get quite thin so removing the support material takes some patience :)