I'm at MSFC, in Huntsville, Alabama. A lot of workers here went to KSC to see the launch.
NASA got in a jam when the Ares mission got canceled. Thousands of contractors got fired and went and found jobs elsewhere. Then they came up with SLS, which is basically a rehashed Ares 5 rocket but they got stuck with Boeing having a cost-plus contract. Boeing been in no hurry to finish their work, of course but I can't see NASA giving Boeing any more contracts anytime soon. Blue Origin, SpaceX, and a bunch of other space companies you've not heard of are doing all sorts of cool stuff in the commercial space business(satellites). NASA also politically crippled by the fear of failure; especially if somebody dies. So, paralysis by analysis continues.
SLS is currently the only rocket capable of getting to the moon without a refuel on the way. That's why, I think, Gateway became a thing. SpaceX may get Starship going in a year or two; we'll see.
I don't like the fact that Artemis is way over budget and way behind schedule but the situation is what it is. Let's get all three Artemis rockets launched and gone and NASA can hopefully move forward with other partners.
And oh yes, vitally important to get to the moon before going to Mars. Plus, NASA has tons of projects concerned with having a permanent base on the moon. Recovering water and metals from the lunar regolith to building structures, growing food, habitat, recycling, etc.