Mars One: this non-profit organization wants to establish a colony on the Red Planet, beginning with flying 4 astronauts there by the year 2023. The organization wants to make a very big deal out of this, advertising the event and the selection process on a global scale. But it involves no plans to bring the original astronauts, or any additional colonists they send in their direction, back to Earth.
Elon Musk‘s Mars colony: Elon Musk is the CEO of the Tesla car company, as well as the founder of spaceflight firm SpaceX. In 2012, the billionaire announced his plan to launch 10 or so colonists to Mars on an enormous, reusable rocket. He will charge individuals interested in becoming the original colonists $500,000 each to board the spacecraft, and imagines the colony growing to roughly 80,000 people.
Mars Direct: Developed by head of Mars society Robert Zubrin, this plan would fly astronauts to Mars using the country’s current advanced launch technology. Once on the Red Planet, the astronauts can generate oxygen and rocket fuel from the thin atmosphere and water and mineral resources from the planet’s soil. While there, their activities can be monitored by a nuclear reactor. This plan aims to be affordable and encourage human self-sufficiency.
NASA (duh!): For years now, NASA’s primary long-term goal has been to land astronauts on Mars. Currently, the agency is in the process of sending Americans to an asteroid hovering near the Earth by 2025, and then finally to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s. Over the last 15 years, NASA has been launching technologically advanced robots to Mars. Despite this, without experts studying the red soil themselves, there’s much difficulty in definitively knowing whether or not the planet harbors or ever harbored life.
Inspiration Mars: the nonprofit organization wants to send two individuals – optimally individuals who are married – on a drive-by of the planet. That is to say, neither the couple nor the craft would actually make contact with the planet’s surface; they would just zoom within 100 miles of it.