First of all, I think that China will probably beat the US in terms of manned space exploration. They will go back to the moon before the US even finishes their new space vehicles. This is sad because China apparently understand economics better than current US leaders do. It might seem that the Apollo program was just a big expensive government program but the truth is that all the expensive science generated far more money that it spent. Science is good for the economy for it provides people with technology that lifts the economy and increases growth in the country. As complicated as going to the Moon and Mars and expensive as it seems might be, it is good for the economy. All the new technologies generate new industries which will further the economic growth. Our leaders in the US have forgotten that by limiting science funding and cancelling things like the particle accelerator in Texas.
Second and most important, it is too expensive to think of old ways to get out of this planet. The best and most efficient way is to build the SPACE ELEVATOR. Fund nanotechnologies to get the cable for the elevator built. It is estimated that it would cost $100 a pound at the beginning to lift things into orbit using the elevator and maybe even go down to $1 a pound as more elevators are built. Science fiction but so was landing on the moon before Apollo 11.