Re: Possible Mars missions
We as a species live in the equivilent of an uninsured house. We know for certain that there are hazards human made, and natural that are capable of destroying our civilization and perhaps our species as well. We are also short term creatures, few of us can think in terms of the decades and billions required to create viable and sustainable systems for settling/exploiting/colonizing space.
To those that say "wouldn't this money be better spent on...(well meaning project of choice)" then how much is species survival worth? Or don't we care because we're short term and by the time viable space colonisiation comes about we'll be dead or decrepit. But that's an argument for never addressing long term problems.
So I don't know if a Mars project is the right route; probably a better long term route is reducing payload costs into space. A massive space elevator project is probably a better idea than another gigantic firework.