I won't attempt here to explain all the details of Mars One's plan to put permanent settlers on Mars. But in summary, the audacious project will use technology that already exists or is in development to launch the first crew of four people to the Red Planet in 2024. That's 10 years to iron out everything: getting to Mars, landing on Mars, and living on Mars. And all of this is being coordinated by a private, non-profit organization that does not build any of the equipment itself.
Is this nuts?
I don't think so. It is a longshot; a very big longshot. Once you remove the engineering and costs associated with returning people to Earth, putting people on Mars becomes a much simpler and cheaper exercise. The linchpin on which everything else hangs is money. In my estimation, getting the funding will be the biggest hurdle to success.
Mars One is pursuing some very non-conventional avenues to help secure funding that, additionally, raise public awareness of the project and get people to feel engaged in it, a part of it. A recent Indiegogo campaign raised $313K from over eight thousand funders. Most controversial is the plan to raise funding by producing a show that follows the candidates throughout the testing and selection process, and follows the astronauts' lives on Mars.
Again, is this nuts?
Again, I don't think so. I believe that people will have a great interest in the kinds of people who are willing to leave Earth forever. I think they will be interested in the technology. And I think they will want an honest look at living off-planet, the kind that NASA-filtered media has not provided over the last 50 years. Thoughts?