I'm doing some research in to the various NASA long term programs for human space exploration, and I'm having a really hard time figuring out how they are really different. It seems that since the "90 day report" in 1989 the plan has essentially been:
- Establish a long term presence in space via a space station.
- Do a mission to the Moon, or cis-lunar space, to test out capabilities for a longer mission. Possibly include an asteroid mission.
- Do a mission to Mars.
There has been so far as I can count 4 different versions of that plan, established under Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump, but they all basically seem to say the same thing when I start looking, except they want to scrap the "overpriced" rocket from the previous administration and start their own.
Am I missing something fundamentally, or are all of these programs basically the same thing?