Remember when every American knew what NASA was up to? The Gemini program, The Apollo Program, The Space Station, The Shuttle. Well you may be surprised to learn that NASA is still in business. The new Program is Artemis. You can read about Artemis here Artemis program - Wikipedia Executive Summary NASA is going to launch 8 Artemis missions next decade. Unless they don't. The first launch is planned for next summer. Remember that the Saturn rocket took us to the moon. Well the new rocket is the SLS* based on Shuttle booster technology. The new crew capsule is called the Orion. So here's the idea. NASA wants to put a station in orbit around the moon called the Gateway. The Gateway will act as a rest stop for trips to the surface of the moon where NASA would like to put a permanently occupied outpost. The Gateway would also serve as the launch pad for trips to Mars starting in the 30's. And may include a fuel depot. (*NASA may use commercial rockets for launching cargo or even parts of the Gateway). Issues That's the short version. NASA's funding is really small. Like really really small. Like less than the estimated medicare fraud amount small. But that seems to be the first budget politicians like to cut. And there are some notable opponents of the plan for technical reasons. A proposal There are so many technical issues to overcome before we try to send humans to Mars despite what Elon Musk would have everyone believe. We should get an outpost going on the moon while we develop those technologies that will allow humans to go to Mars safely. Preferably in the next few decades we can develop a highly efficient and possibly faster propulsion technology. We can get to the moon in a few days and launch practically at anytime.In the event of an emergency we can grt home fast. Mars launch windows are only once every 18 months and it takes 7 months to get there. It's one helluva a bad place to be working out kinks. We should continue to develop robotic technology for Mars exploration while we perfect propulsion, radiation protection and ISRU in-situ resource utilization. (building things with space-based resources). On the moon we can work out habitats, improve robotics and develop ISRU technologies . For example the moon has helium-3 a possible rocket propellant. helium-3 is much more abundant on the moon than it is on earth. China, in fact, has plans to mine helium-3 on the moon. One reason we should continue space exploration as a nation. we don't want get behind in helium-3 production In addition to mining potential of propellant there are technologies to work out for building habitats such as using the surface to make a type of brick. The moon's south pole, where the Artemis missions are focused, contains quite a bit of ice. With water we can do just about anything. Imagine a lunar 3-d printer. The propulsion system that keeps the Gateway in orbit is an offshoot of a program to develop a space tug that would have been used to capture asteroids that could be mined at the Gateway or crashed into the moon for ISRU processing at the outpost. On the moon we can perfect many of the things that we will need to put a permanent scientific outpost on Mars. Mars only interests me to level of resources she may have. (In CloSING Rockets, rockets, rockets. Space exploration will not progress until there is breakthrough that allow rocketes to propel us AT 1 G for tips to Mars and the Belt. Anywhere in the Solar system would be reachable in weeks. Propulsion is the Holy Grail that we must find.