The key to Mars is the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which is scheduled to launch in 2020 with the crazy goal of putting chunk of asteroid into orbit around the moon. NASA will use it to trial critical technology, like Solar Electric Propulsion and autonomous robotic technology.
ARM will also be a crucial test of the Space Launch System (SLS) designed to take astronauts and cargo beyond low Earth orbit.
Bolden said that astronauts will even land on the moon, which will function as a way-station to Mars. As for private companies like Mars One and SpaceX? Bolden doesn’t see them as any kind of competition to NASA:
“No commercial company without the support of NASA and government is going to get to Mars.”