The glacial pace of NASA’s human spaceflight program –even with the glaciers melting- may possibly see human beings leave Earth’s gravitational field in 2025. Possibly.
The missing piece of the puzzle is a radiation sanctuary massive enough to protect a crew from a major solar event on such a journey.
A fairly massive shelter, probably made of RFX1, will have to be available for any deep space mission. But why chase down a boulder? A mission to orbit the moon is a much more worthwhile project.
Why do we have a space station orbiting the Earth instead of the Moon? The answer is money of course. Such a station would not have the protection of the Van Allen belts and would require heavy shielding. The vehicle to insert such a heavily shielded station into lunar orbit and resupply it existed in the form of the cargo version of the space shuttle- called Sidemount.
Sidemount was never funded, and a vast amount of money- over 100 billion dollars- spent on the ISS was essentially wasted on tin cans going in endless circles at very high altitude. It does have a nice window though.
Low Earth Orbit is a dead end.
We now have the opportunity to launch a station to orbit the Moon in a relatively short time frame using the Delta IV vehicle. But again, the political football that is human space flight is the first to be cut- while cold war monstrosities like the V-22 Osprey and F-35 Stealth Fighter suck up billions and deliver wonder weapons that do not work.
Why are we trapped and going in circles- going nowhere? Along with the trillion dollar war, billions of dollars are.….missing. Nobody even knows where those billions went.
I know one thing; there went our space program.