There was a US House Committee meeting on Thursday that focused on the Science, Space and Technology. In that hearing the present NASA official, Charles Bolden was invited to talk and express his vision for NASA for the near and far future. In his speech he repeatedly mentioned a manned mission to Mars that could come about by as early as 2030.
One of the reasons Mr. Bolden stated for the need to go to and colonize Mars was “Mars is the planet that is most like Earth”. He went on to say “No commercial company without the support of NASA and government is going to get to Mars”.