Pretty sad to be honest, it took 8 years from start to finish to get people to the moon with I believe no prior manned space-flight experience and computers that our calculators make look like dinosaurs. The problem is space programs like nasa are bloated innefficent government bueracracies with little performance based incentives or goals.
Now that nuclear propulsion has been abandoned, these programs are pretty much pointless, the only way we can do materially usefull things in space (i.e. asteroid minning, large scale space construction, including human settlements on other planets) is going to be with nuclear propulsion and power generation. Solar power and chemical propulsion aint going to cut it. Perhaps you could shuttle people up to space stations in space planes like the absalon, but your not going to be able to do the in-space stuff with chemical propulsion.
They need goals, targets, objectives, call it what you want they need them, I.E developing materially usefull space-based propulsion and support systems for large-scale development and exploitation of our local space. Exploitation of nearby asteroids and other space resources, colonization of other planets, development of space structures, a solar array orbiting the sun capable of collecting and transmitting energy equivelant to that which hits the planet every day. Etc..etc.. Clear goals with deadlines.