Here is a link to a (proposed) re-purposed use of (at least part of) the ISS.......All that equipment already up there could actually be used for a non-LEO mission! I had always thought about the potential for using the station for such a purpose.
Too bad if it was not considered for the MIR! Just letting all that hardware burn up in the atmosphere after the energy and time to launch and build it. Even at its age, sections could have been adapted for non-crewed exploration...IMO