The bottom line is that NASA will continue to flounder until the next space race begins, when, say, China decides to send a team to an asteroid or the Moon to mine some desirable exotic mineral, or some equivalent mission. Sputnik woke up America, and the combination of military rivalry, national pride and occasional need for international one-upsmanship have been shown to be necessary factors for any major space budget upgrade.
Simple solution for SETI advocates: stimulate a Chinese connection, for this sort of strategy succeeded for hydrogen R&D (with respect to perceived Japanese and European priority advancements—see Chapter 3 of Book 1). That is, governmental decision-makers (people in Congress and the Administration) do get concerned when a serious international rival begins to spend more money on something that could potentially affect the national psyche or security. If Senator Spark Matsunaga were still around, he might have inspired the sequel to The Mars Project (advocating U.S.-Soviet space cooperation on Mars): The Milky Way Project (to first bring China into the International Space Station, then find a way to have them develop a trinterferometer—the Station plus two other satellites in geosynchronous orbit, maintaining an equilateral triangulated formation with the Station—to detect the first true Earth-like exoplanet, hinting that their next step would be to detect actual alien signals). Perhaps, now, that could be my Book 6.
Absent any compelling external force, NASA, and SETI development, will plod along to maintain a dull edge, producing useful science and, now and then, cleverly announcing some potentially significant finding to remain in the public eye. Some unmanned craft will someday, possibly by 2050, actually discover microscopic life in our solar system, probably a moon associated with Saturn or Jupiter. That should be sufficient to continue funding for another century.
Then, a discernible signal will be detected from an earthlike planet, and the glorious mission to communicate with extraterrestrials will capture the imagination of the world for a millennium. This, however, could be centuries or millennia away…unless someone or some thing steps up to make a crucial difference…or that intelligent message arrives. But there are too many David Drumlins in government and no H.R. Hadden. If Paul Allen commits his $23 billion to this effort, well, that might work. While you await this possible inevitable, to maintain hope, keep watching, at regular intervals, Contact, the movie.
Next, Chapter 5 on the Golden Evolution about religion.