Science writer Marc Kaufman writes about the growing realization that creating settlements on Mars and elsewhere in space in the not so distant future is not an impossible fiction but something that might actually be doable: Human mission to Mars is no longer just a sci-fi dream – The Washington Post.

There certainly will be no shortage of people wanting to go as discussed in this recent post about applicants for the Mars One settlement project. (See also this BBC report and video about Mars One and the flood of applicants: Prospect of one-way Mars trip captures the imagination – BBC)

By far the biggest challenge is lowering the cost of getting to space. Progress is being made on that front by new companies like SpaceX, which is aiming to develop a fully reusable rocket system that could lower the costs by as much as 100 times below today’s average space transport prices. The amazing video below shows a recent test of a prototype first stage booster that is demonstrating vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. (You can follow progress in new rocket vehicle development at NewSpace Watch, where I post daily on the latest developments.)

In the following video, Elon Musk, founder and chief of SpaceX, talks with Salman Khan of Khan Academy about a range of topics including lowering the cost of rockets and Mars settlements: