NASA Fungi Habitats: Revolutionary Mycotecture Project for Moon and Mars

NASA fungi habitats, Mycotecture Off Planet project, space habitats from fungi, NASA Ames Research Center, long-duration space missions, sustainable space exploration, NIAC Phase III award, Artemis Moon missions, Mars habitat technology, space technology advancements

Explore NASA’s innovative Mycotecture Off Planet project, which aims to create sustainable habitats for Moon and Mars missions using fungi. With $2 million in new funding, this revolutionary approach could transform space exploration and provide new solutions for Earth. Learn how NASA researchers are developing this cutting-edge technology to support long-duration missions and future space colonization.

NASA's Fungi-Based Habitats: Revolutionary Mycotecture Project for Moon and Mars
NASA’s Fungi-Based Habitats: Revolutionary Mycotecture Project for Moon and Mars

NASA Advances Research to Grow Habitats in Space from Fungi

As NASA prepares for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, a groundbreaking concept involving the use of fungi to grow habitats has been selected for further development. This innovative approach could revolutionize how future explorers live and work in space. A team of researchers at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley will receive new funding under NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to advance their habitat research.

The Mycotecture Off Planet Project

The Mycotecture Off Planet project, led by Lynn Rothschild, a senior research scientist at NASA Ames, aims to harness the power of fungi to create sustainable habitats in space. The project has been awarded a Phase III NIAC award, which will provide $2 million over two years to continue technology development in preparation for a potential future demonstration mission.

The Visionary Approach

The concept behind Mycotecture is both innovative and practical. By utilizing fungi, specifically the underground threads known as mycelia, the team envisions habitats that can be “grown” on planetary surfaces like the Moon and Mars. This method could significantly reduce the mass and resources needed to transport traditional building materials from Earth.

As NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated, “As NASA prepares to explore farther into the cosmos than ever before, it will require new science and technology that doesn’t yet exist. NASA’s space technology team and the NIAC program unlock visionary ideas – ideas that make the impossible, possible.”

The Science Behind Mycotecture

The process of growing habitats from fungi involves transporting a compact, lightweight framework containing dormant fungi. Upon arrival at the destination, water is added to the framework, activating the fungi to grow around it, forming a robust, fully functional human habitat. This approach not only leverages the biological properties of fungi but also ensures that they are safely contained to prevent contamination of the extraterrestrial environment.

Early Success and Future Goals

The proof of concept for this technology has already been demonstrated through earlier NIAC awards. The team has created multiple combinations of fungal-based biocomposites, fabricated prototypes, tested materials in a planetary simulator, and evaluated enhancements such as incorporating radiation protection. Detailed designs for mycelium-based Moon habitats have also been drafted.

Walt Engelund, associate administrator for Programs in the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, highlighted the potential impact of this research: “We are committed to advancing technologies to transport our astronauts, house our explorers, and facilitate valuable research. We invest in these technologies throughout their lifecycle, recognizing their potential to help us accomplish our goals – benefiting industry, our agency, and humanity.”

Applications on Earth and Beyond

While the primary focus of the Mycotecture project is on space exploration, the technology also has potential applications on Earth. Mycelia could be used for water filtration and systems that extract minerals from wastewater, showcasing the versatility and sustainability of this approach.

John Nelson, NIAC Program Executive, emphasized the transformative nature of such advanced concepts: “Mycotecture Off Planet exemplifies how advanced concepts can change how we envision future exploration missions. As NASA embarks on the next era of space exploration, NIAC helps the agency lay the necessary groundwork to bring innovative visions to life.”

Phase III Objectives and Beyond

The Phase III award will enable the research team to optimize the material properties of the fungal-based habitats. This phase will also involve progressing towards testing in low Earth orbit, with the ultimate goal of integrating this technology into commercial space stations or missions to the Moon and Mars.

Integration into Future Missions

Future applications of the Mycotecture project could include integration into commercial space stations or infusion into lunar missions, with the ultimate aim of using this technology on Mars. This aligns with NASA’s broader goals of sustainable human exploration of the Moon and Mars as part of the Artemis campaign.

The Role of NIAC and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts supports visionary, early-stage research ideas through multiple progressive phases of study. In January 2024, NASA announced 19 Phase I and Phase II proposal selections. The Space Technology Mission Directorate, responsible for developing new cross-cutting technologies and capabilities, funds NIAC activities.

The Broader Impact

The research and development supported by NIAC not only pave the way for future space missions but also have the potential to drive innovation across various industries on Earth. By investing in early-stage research, NASA ensures that it remains at the forefront of technological advancements that can benefit humanity as a whole.


The Mycotecture Off Planet project represents a bold and innovative step towards sustainable space exploration. By leveraging the unique properties of fungi, NASA aims to create habitats that are both lightweight and robust, capable of supporting human life on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The successful implementation of this technology could revolutionize how we approach space colonization, making the dream of living on other planets a reality.

As NASA continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, the Mycotecture project serves as a testament to the power of visionary ideas and the importance of early-stage research. With continued support and funding, this groundbreaking approach could play a crucial role in the future of space exploration, benefiting not only the agency but also industry and humanity as a whole.

Read More

Leave a Comment