The problem is that NASA has a big public relations problem. It isn't doing a good job of selling its programs to the American public or the US Congress. It's generated zero public excitement for "Project Constellation" and its engineers are currently squabbling over the best way to return to the moon and Mars. The only people who seem interested are a handfull of science fiction and aerospace enthusiasts and the aerospace contractors who might make some money when they receive NASA business.
We need another Wehrner Von Braun or Willy Ley who will be the public face of the new space program and evangilize it to the American public and congress. We need a showman like Walt Disney to generate public enthusiasm for manned spaceflight like he did in his Disneyland
NASA is doing a terrible job of communicating and is not doing a sufficient job to communicate its mission. It needs to sell "Project Constellation." It needs to answer the question why should we go back to the moon and why we should go to Mars. It needs to communicate how "Project Constellation" will benefit the American public or the world. Will "Project Constellation" have a trickle down effect by developing new technologies that will be used to improve the quality of life here on Earth? Will it increase the competiveness of American industry or aerospace?
If NASA does a better job of justifying its existence it might receive bigger budgets from Congress.
At least China says that it is interested in the moon to mine Helium-3 to fuel nuclear fussion reactors to help satisfy future energy needs.
Further, I don't see why manned spaceflight would be of any interest to the U.S. Air Force. What would be the military objective that they would achieve by flying men and women to the moon and to Mars? What interest would they have in robotic probes going to other celestial bodies? Why would they want to operate space telescopes?
The space technology that they might be interested in would be space craft that would allow them global strike capability and bypass the politics of flying through other countrie's airspace. Space technology, such as satellites, doing intelligence gathering. If it wasn't prohibited by treaty, they would be interested in weapons platforms in low Earth orbit that can strike the globe.
Right now, the U.S. Air Force wants F-22 Raptors
, refueling tankers, a next generation stealth bomber, and unmanned combat aerial vehicles. It doesn't want to spend its time or budget operating "Project Constellation."