Or we could cease the pissing contest of getting people to Mars first, ASAP, and continue with our low Earth orbiting ISS investment, and do our long-range exploration and tests using cheaper rocket engines and instruments, which are working very well, especially over time. Hopefully with less financial and environmental costs over time. I'm not anti-science, but can't these questions wait to be resolved, until like 100 years from now at least? Technology always gets cheaper and we have other priorities for the budget.
I mean really, Putin has single handedly-topped his Sochi Olympics with Cold War II. And I'm sorry to invoke a Godwin on a science budget thread, but those Islamic State monsters are on at least the level of Nazis.
Instruments seem better suited for deep space exploration and performing actual science than humans, and they can certainly do it up there longer and dare I say for less money. Doesn't the ISS do a lot of grade-school experiments for kids to keep them interested in studying science in school? We can do better with our science budget.