Back when going into space was a noble endeavour, America was happy to spend lots of dosh on it."
Yea, but see how they wasted it! It's basically a private holiday industry for the more responsible Top Gun graduates.
There's little point in sending people into space at this point: there's almost nothing they can do there in situ that nowadays cannot be done by much cheaper robots far more efficiently [no support for air, food, waste needed, no careful jiggering of temperature, no exercise to compensate for boneloss in microgravity, no entertainment to keep stress at bay, no need for sleeping nor staying awake]. And when they get sent up there's just the afterthought of what to do --- experiments literally suggested by children ["spider web at zero grav"].
Yes, humans have been able to repair things that would have been completely lost otherwise --- to the benefit of saving themselves [Apollo 13], but that's begging the question why risk their lives [now] in the first place. Yes, the glamour is lost (just like an Warthog or Apache pilot despises the drone jockeys).
The entire object of space research is now space engineering: building, maintaining and supplying space stations for their own sake. Instead of actual exploration at a fraction of the cost. There's all the good reasons to wait with that sort of stuff until you know what you're going to do there actually ("mine oxygen, rare earths, diamonds and/or pixie dust").
Exactly like the just-ended "mars mission simulation" in Russia -- what's the point? The trip is not for another generation (30y is often the target), so whatever's learned will have to be relearned.