This has been an interesting subject to research. Keeping in mind that you can't believe everything you see in print; there are differing views as to whether life on Mars ever existed and whether we can ever make the planet inhabitable again. There is also disagreement in how long it will take for a manned mission and whether we will have the capabilities and technology to achieve this. Before we can determine if life ever existed or can exist on mars or before we think about colonizing the planet, we need to be able to get manned missions to Mars.
The thought of making a trip to Mars became less of a stretch of the imagination after landing of man on the moon. The Soviets have wanted to go to Mars since the 1960s after it was clear that they lost the race to the moon. (3) Recent statements by key players have indicated that this is the direction we are moving or want to move.
President Bush directed NASA to plan a human landing on Mars by the year 2020. (4) "MEN will be walking on Mars within 20 years, the head of NASA predicted in May 2001." (1) These bold statements led to the development of a space initiative.
A space initiative was developed by the U.S. but scrapped shortly thereafter due to money shortfalls and a shift in priorities. It's easier to sell the American public on space station research than the relevance of manned exploration of Mars. The current space program (shuttle missions), joint operations with Russian on Mir and the new International Space Station are not directly related to putting man on Mars but in my opinion is the start of the cooperation needed to accomplish such a feat. The modular concept being used to...