Chattanooga's Branch Technology wins 1st place in NASA competition

Space agency eyes 3-D printed habitat for deep space

Members of the winning team of Foster + Partners and Branch Technology stand before structural components they constructed. The team won first place in a phase of a NASA competition to build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration.

Chattanooga-based Branch Technology joined with an architectural firm to win first place in a phase of a NASA competition to build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration.

The 3-D printing company based in Chattanooga's small business incubator built a number of structural components which could be part of habitats, said Melody Rees, a Branch Technology project manager who was the group's team leader.

"We won because our structures were the strongest," she said. "They held the most weight."

Branch, which has 16 employees in Chattanooga, won with the California-based office of Foster + Partners and took home $250,000 in prize money.

The multi-phase, $2.5 million 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge is designed to advance construction technology needed to create sustainable housing for the Earth and beyond.

Jim Reuter, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, said the work during the challenge "puts us that much closer to preparing the way for deep space exploration."

Sharon