Something to think about, there
For all those who can seriously, at such a moment of profound technological triumph, find themselves saying things like “Surely this money could have been spent better on something else”: please note that you’re not thinking this through.
Brief example: the Space Shuttle. Just a few of the bits of tech developed for the Shuttle have since been spun off into such down-to-earth uses as bloodless surgery, lenses that correct human eyesight without looking like Coke bottle bottoms, artificial heart valves that never wear out, and more advanced pregnancy monitoring than was even dreamed of twenty years ago. And this is just in the physical/medical mode. Don’t even get me started on engineering. The Shuttle program is all through your life and you don’t even know it.
What Mars exploration will do for us in the next ten years: too soon to tell. The possibilities are staggering. But to say “this money could be spent better” implies both an intense lack of understanding of what has been done so far, and a huge misunderstanding of the phrase “value for money”, because NASA is better value for money than almost anything else the United States has ever done.
Concerned about spending money better? Give up potato chips.