First off, let me point out that I consider spaceflight to be a Good Thing.
But, I really don't understand why it takes so many people.
ESA just launched Johannes Kepler to the ISS, and it took a huge crowd of people just to monitor the launch (see 40s into the video in the link).
NASA are no better, with tens of thousands of people employed to turn around each Shuttle, thousands more to watch each mission...
When McDonnell Douglas developed the DC-X & DC-XA, they only needed THREE people to run each flight, and a handful of people to turn the craft around in twenty four hours! Oh, and each of the prototypes cost around the same as the Shuttle's toilet.
Delta Clipper should have been the future of commercial LEO space flight, and then beyond.
They dropped the ball, badly, with Mars as well. NASA had sight of the Mars Direct plan twenty years ago, which would have landed long-term manned missions on Mars within a decade of the "go", using Saturn V or Shuttle launch hardwear with minimal re-tooling.
Instead, they threw away the dies for Saturn V, and used the Shuttle to ferry up parts for the ISS.
I don't know who was running NASA back then, but they were short-sighted idiots; if they had manned up to ignore the politics that killed off DC-XA and forced ISS on us all, LEO flights would be no more a luxury than a high-end cruise, and we'd have ten years worth of footprints in the sands of Mars.