In 1989 George Bush (the first one) told NASA to come up with a new goal in space. They came back with a Mars mission that was going to take thirty years and $540 billion dollars. After everyone stopped laughing they set about cleaning house and trying to come up with a space agency that understood how Earth worked as well as they did things outside the atmosphere.
From this we got a very interesting Moon base proposal, which unfortunately went nowhere since George Bush got knocked off by Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton (whatever his other strengths) was roughly as interested in manned space travel as he was in having sex with Hilary.
The latest installment of False Steps is FLO: The First Lunar Outpost