I’ve commented on this before but Bush’s recent big promises for piloted missions to the moon and mars prompts me to comment again.
This is going to take so long, cost so much money and yield so little permanency, that the governments of Earth may as well focus on a much grander and longer term goal that will finally answer the only logical reason for humans to be in space: Colonization.
To do this, money would be better spent on building space elevators (Look that up if you don’t know what that is.), improved robotics and artificial intelligence (For example, building autonomous, self-reproducing factories that can refine asteroidal and lunar materials and build infrastructure.) and learning how to radically alter human biology so we can thrive permanently in the hostile environments elsewhere in the solar system. Changing humans will be easier than terraforming Mars or Venus. A much more useful goal for human spaceflight would be the construction of a permanent colony in the Lagrange Points between Earth and the Moon. How’s that for a long term goal? It’s the only one that makes sense, because the robots will always have exploration and science locked up, especially with the use of telepresence.