I am not going to watch any coverage of the last shuttle mission; I am disgusted with all the gushing comments about NASA and glorious past with the shuttle. It all bullshit to me. The shuttle did not live up to its expectations, it was just another long running boondoggle demonstrating of loss of American leadership and know how after Apollo. In fact, the time from Mercury to Apollo was just a 9 year aberration to the 40 year failure of the American Space program.
The seeds of this failure started not with Nixon but John F Kennedy. The seeds of failure were plated on May 25, 1961; The problem is the moon program will be manly a government ran operation. Missing was a greater involvement by private enterprise. The problem is much government spending for programs is on the basis of what brings in votes that American prestige and the public good. The goals were lofty, for mankind and American but like all political undertakings which left the space program with a huge vulnerability: Space Exploration does not bring votes welfare spending does. I see this soon after the Apollo 11 mission; many complained it was too expensive to send people into space, we spend this money on fixing earth. Never mind after 40 years the welfare sate a la war on poverty was even a great failure than the shuttle. It was not lost on me in the 1970’s even children’s cartoons like The Super Friends preached how we were wasting money on the US space program.
Now fast forward to Bush (41)/Clintonera shuttle replacement program. The problem was typically government procurement monopoly with each of the many defense contractors competing with CGI presentations chasing contactor gold without producing anything tangible The winner Lockheed Martian X-33. The X-33 was abandoned in 2001.
Finally NASA without a real mission became a shell of its former glory. The like to take about how much technology NASA has created but since 1980’s NASA are mort of a new consumer than net producer of new technology
The solution we need se more private enterprise in space exploration instead of chase for government dollars. For example NASA need to take you fly we buy approach. Unlike of the x-33 and now The Dream Chaser or Blue Origin, the wining ship design will be the company that will demonstrate an actual working space vehicle by taking thee astronauts in space for one day of orbits and bringing them home safely. The company must spend it own money developing a working flying space vehicle and will be allow to sell flight to private interest
If US. and the world’s future space exploration to survive, we need to take leave of the old tired government ran space program and its inefficient procurement system.