The first folks heading to Mars would have machines to produce fertiliser, oxygen and methane from Mars' atmosphere and subsurface water ice with them on the big booster, as well as construction materials to build big transparent domes to grow Earth crops in.
Does he know something Mars and its atmosphere that I have not heard? I would not have been interested in my 40's, still not interested in my 50's, and would only ever be interested when I thought I was near death.* Being the first human buried on Mars might be sort of cool.
*Not to mention that I've much better uses for $500, 000 right here on Earth.