Those who know me have heard this rant before, so bear with me.
NASA screwed up the space shuttle.
What, you say? It was a successful workhorse for how many years?
It was...or was it? The shuttle's massive and expensive turnaround was only part of the problem. A space shuttle is only partially reusable. After each flight, it has to be extensively rebuilt and then tested.
But what NASA screwed up was more basic. They built the space shuttle. They got it more or less spaceworthy, then they went 'Oh, yeah. We have a reusable orbiter. You can all go home now.'
Challenger was a freak accident. But Columbia was largely contributed to by the age of the orbiter. Furthermore, parts for the shuttle's electronics eventually had to be purchased on eBay. Where else, in this day and age, would you find seven and a quarter inch floppies. Yes. That's what the space shuttle's disk drives read.
It's unbelievable, isn't it. And the only reasonable suggestion made by the Bush government for a replacement was to go back to Apollo technology. Obama? He's had no ideas at all...
Where would we be now had NASA kept the team that designed the shuttle together and told them to start working on the NEXT shuttle?