While Elon Musk and his SpaceX outfit are planning their own Martian settlement having thousands of inhabitants, another firm, Mars One, is considering doing the same thing, albeit on a much smaller scale. It is inviting applications to become one of these pioneers and offers a flight to the planet once a Mars rover and cargo has been landed first and a communications relay satellite has been put into Martian orbit. The first four "colonists" will be landed in 2023. The only downside is that it is a one-way trip. The mission is to be funded as a "media event" with live (albeit delayed) day-to-day reality television coverage beamed back to Earth.
There is one downside for those who love their families and friends back on Earth. Mars One is not laying on a return flight. The video, courtesy Mars One, can be seen below. The technology looks very similar to SpaceX spacecraft technology and Mars One has announced that it has approached SpaceX and other space firms to supply the hardware. All this assumes that they can gain enough funding.
Comment by David Todd: The basic plan is a good one from a relative cost point of view and harks back to the early 1960s One Way Space Man concept which was envisaged as a quick plan to beat the Soviet Union to a manned landing on the Moon. That plan, later dubbed Project Pilgrim after a novel based on it, involved landing a habitable module on the moon for an astronaut to later land next to using a Mercury spacecraft-based lander with no ascent/return vehicle. The idea was that a US astronaut would stay in the habitable module/shelter and would be picked months later using Apollo hardware once that programme had been perfected. The Robert Altman directed movie Countdown (1968) displays the concept well albeit with a Gemini-based landing craft. For a Martian version of this plan, getting the funding together remains the issue. As it is, really they should at least come up with a way of eventually allowing any settlers to return to Earth.