In 2016, a Kickstarter to fund the first Mars mission was successful.
After years of development and many rounds of venture capital (and somehow not getting bought by Facebook), the company MarsX was set to launch its first manned Mars rocket in 2025. The plans were posted for free online, in case you wanted to build your own. Initial backers above the $50k level got tickets on the first flight, free.
The launch was successful and the YouTube videos of the first week in space were insane. It was like an MIT dormitory full of middle-aged guys flying to another planet.
6 months later they landed on Mars. Several communal housing units had already been deposited on the surface, like a bunch of very large pop-up campers at Burning Man.
Soon all the backers who qualified for tickets were rocking the Mars lifestyle: divvying up parcels of Mars dirt, deploying personal campers, and building annexes out of stone.
The first round of public ticket sales was snapped up by bots in 500ms. They ended up on eBay at upwards of $300k. More rockets were built and launches were ramped up to once a week.
In an effort to catch up with demand, economy class tickets were issued, which only came with a space suit and an unpressurized room in an “apartment complex” made out of Mars concrete. You could also use the pressurized common rooms for meals and bathing 2 hours a day.
In order to play amongst the stars, many people turned to GoFundMe and a few were even successful. The most popular ones had some gimmick, like someone who would make it their mission to high-five everyone on Mars (back when there were still less than 100,000 colonists), or 4 guys who would share a room and live on nothing but weed, brownies, and weed-brownies for a year.
It was less than a year before some of the cheaper barracks started decaying into slums. After frolicking on a foreign planet finally got old, and the atmosphere of excitement started wearing thin (no pun intended), a few people died trying to modify their space suits so they could smoke. There was nothing to do but sleep and listen to music through helmet speakers 22 hours a day. The wealthy people who had their own pressurized rooms merely had to contend with slow internet and radiation exposure that was gradually becoming harder to ignore.
People were still signing up in droves. Humans had finally become a multi-planetary species.
Keywords: space exploration, fiction