Space Concrete and the Future of Colonies on Mars

An Alternative To Shipping Tonnes of Concrete To Mars

With NASA predicting that humans will set foot on Mars for the first time by the year 2030, it comes as no surprise that the next step would be to initiate colonization on the red planet. And with the prospects of colonization comes the need for construction materials to build our Martian headquarters.

But not so fast… how on earth do we plan on providing the time and resources required to ship the thousands of tonnes of concrete material necessary to build a sustainable Martian economy? And how do we plan on accounting for the showers of micrometeorites that constantly bombard the surface of Mars which would quickly punch holes into any ordinary structure we find on Earth?

As it is logistically impossible for us to ship tons of concrete from our home planet to Mars, the only alternative is to make it in space itself, and so Stanford and NASA scientists went ahead and created a new form of concrete that we can produce on Mars.

How it’s made

David Loftus at NASA’s Ames Research Center and Micheal Lepech, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford School of Engineering turned to the idea of using Martian soil that is bound together by animal proteins which make up things such as shells, bones, and teeth. To replicate the conditions found on Mars, the researchers combined bovine blood protein with simulated extraterrestrial soils that are similar to what is found on Mars. What resulted in their first bio-concrete batch was concrete that was as strong as that used for sidewalks and patios. It also held strong to micrometeorites which were replicated by blasting the concrete with high-speed gas particles.

The idea is that we will be able to make concrete on Mars, by first utilizing Martian soil, and also, by creating biological factories of organisms which are genetically engineered to produce the necessary protein binder. This would be done the same way that biotech companies use genetically engineered bacteria in making synthetic hormones.

Not only does this plan – if executed properly – ensure our ability to create strong building materials from resources on Mars, by using bio-based concrete, the binding proteins can actually be recycled and reused over time.

Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

giatec award for best paper

Giatec Award for Best Paper

We are very excited to announce the launch of our annual research paper contest! This is a great opportunity for civil-engineers to expose their research and development to a global audience of industry experts. Plus, the…

Schematic representation of service-life stages for structures exposed to chloride-induced corrosion risk

Analyzing Corrosion in Reinforced Concrete Structures

Reinforced concrete structures have shaped our cities for thousands of years, from historical buildings stretching as far back as the Romans to present day, such as the 3-storey parking garage adjacent to the mega shopping mall…

Concrete Robot

Concrete-Eating Robots – The Future of Recycling Old Buildings

The process of demolishing a building involves heavy machinery to crush concrete and separate valuable materials that can be reused. Current methods consume quite a significant amount of time and money in order to safely disassemble the building, extract parts, and transport the materials to off-site centers…


Why Measure Concrete Resistivity?

Concrete is a porous material which contains microscopic voids known as pores. These pores range in size, vary in connectivity (pore structure) and can be added to the concrete via air-entraining admixtures. The water-to-cementitious material and…

completed road

Open Roads Sooner with Concrete Curing Sensors

Road construction can be a lengthy, disruptive process—so ensuring that your project stays on schedule is one of your most important responsibilities as a project manager. Even before groundwork can be begin, the planning stages of…

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience, analyze site traffic and assist in our marketing efforts. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy Page.