A Discovery astronaut working on the International Space Station this week. In Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY astronauts are depicted repairing the fictional Discovery, a ship assembled in orbit. We also see a space shuttle dock with a half-completed space station. Building and maintaining a home in Space is one Sci Fi dream that is coming true.
Say what you want about ISS, it has given us the experience to build big things in Space. It has also shown how a project can survive through decades of changing administrations and threats to funding. Reaching the Moon and beyond will need a long-term commitment. We will be required to maintain permanent homes at ever-greater distances from Earth.
There is an argument for skipping the Moon and heading straight for Mars. However we reach Mars, it should be to establish a permanent presence. Building a Moon outpost first will give us experience settling another world while staying within a few days of Earth. Travelling to Mars presents many unknowns that will need to be solved. Progress can be slow, but we are taking the steps needed to move into Space.