Human Spaceflight: With Risk, We Need Purpose, Planetary Society
"If the NASA connected the work on the ISS to human exploration of other worlds and reaching Mars sometime in the foreseeable future, the adventure of EVA and space station construction would be more publicly engaging. If NASA could declare that Scott Parazynski's work was not just a death-defying feat, but instead was an illustrative and instructive about death-defying work that will be necessary to accomplish Mars missions, then the story would be more compelling." ...
... "I recognize there is no strong consensus for a political and budget commitment to send humans to Mars, but repeatedly we have seen that without progress toward the Mars destination, human spaceflight programs lack purpose and suffer from weak public support."
Editor's note: Spot on, Lou.
Alas, Mike Griffin has stated more than once that he does not like the space station that is being built - and has said much less complementary things about its utility in private. As such, the agency's leader is plodding along checking all the boxes on the ISS assembly plan - all the while wishing he could be doing something else. And it shows. In so doing he tells people to focus not on the ISS, but rather, somewhere else - on yet another hundred billion-plus human spaceflight endeavor.
NASA suffers from chronic, institutional Attention Deficit Disorder. Why should anyone accept NASA's reasons for spending all of this money if its own leader finds himself so easily distracted by the next new shiny program?