If I'm lucky, I'll be able to retire some time in the 2030s. A lot can happen in the next 20 years. From what I've read in an article on FoxNews, perhaps even a manned one-way trip to Mars. To summarize, the article references a recent article from the Journal of Cosmology that gave great details how a privately funded manned mission to Mars could take place as early as 20 years from now. More than 400 people have already volunteered as colonists.
Interesting how it specifies "privately funded." Can't trust the government? Well, let's face facts. It seems like the private sector is doing more to advance the possibilities of space travel. In my draft novel, LEGACY SOLDIER, this fits in with the backstory. One of the societies came from humanities first attempt at colonizing outside of our solar system using privately funded and developed a prototype faster-than-light propulsion. Needless to say, they have many volunteers - mostly scientists (high tech types, biologists, physicists - enough different PhDs that it could really mean Piled higher and Deeper).
Anyway, when the colonists first get to Mars, it's likely that the ship itself will be designed to serve as a colony/outpost. But that couldn't last forever. Bio-domes and other habitats will probably follow. Russian architect Alexander Remizov designed a "green ark" that resembles a giant slinky and has the capacity to house 10,000 people. While the design is most likely intended for Earth-bound use (as implied by the floating version), such a structure would be a likely necessity on a colony. That is until Arnold Schwartzenegger shows up and finds the alien machine to give Mars an atmosphere (remember Total Recall?)
Now, we also have to think about transportation. Considering the limited resources, I doubt that big SUVs will be taken along. Walking might work at first, but some type of motorized transportation would eventually become needed. Well, GM has debuted some small pod-like cars that seat two, run on two wheels, are completely electronic and can drive themselves. The Electric Networked Vehicle, or EN-V (pronounced envy) that they anticipate could be ready for the market in 2030. These small vehicles would be the perfect type of conveyance in a self-contained society. The EN-V's controller/steering "wheel" is actually rectangular. At a glance it looks like a small iPad or big iPhone. Due to the size and having no real dashboard, it would make sense to have guages and other vehicle information available on the controller.
So there you have it. Real tech mixed with some credible concepts that could lead to the first attempts at off-world colonization within out lifetime. Until then, this makes for good background information and technological support for credible writing.
Look to the stars and