Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.
That's actually not a bad idea. In *practice* it's impossible.
Perhaps it's impossible. But we could try to avoid doing things that obviously aren't very productive. Right now -- and for the foreseeable future I fear -- an appalling percentage of our space activity funding is going to be spent on building huge rockets rather than on the payloads. Seems to me that's closer to pyramid building than science. Spending resource to get the (spectacularly late and over budget) James Webb Space Observatory out to L2 certainly qualifies as science. Hopefully the damn thing works.
Spending resource to get a few astronauts back to the moon OTOH seems mostly pointless.