I received a call recently from the UCLA School of Engineering asking for our help getting to Mars. Well, at least help funding the effort to get to Mars and build a habitat there. They are collaborating with the School of Architecture to build the first Mars habitat for NASA. They had just finished bidding on Phase One of a multi-phased award process and were excited to have been selected fourth out of 165 entrants to reach the final four who will go on to bid for Phase Two. It was to be the top three, but third and fourth places were essentially a tie so NASA is now working with four different teams on Phase Two of the bidding. Phase One was a high level design and prototype of the actual process proposed to build the habitat. You see NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden envisions having a habitat already built when U.S. Astronauts arrive on Mars just 15 years from now in 2030. The process to do this involves dropping large 3D printers on the red planet with robots to literally use the dirt on Mars to print a complex habitat in which the astronauts will live. See the picture here of what this will look like. You can see the robot printer on the right side of the picture.