Many many things have been said about the end of the Space Shuttle, given that it just completed its last flight. From those not connected with space, or from those from the Apollo generation, the sentiment has been one of sadness and loss, the idea that America has forever passed from the ranks of great spacefaring nations. For those who are more in tune with current space developments, the reaction is “Finally!”.
The Space Shuttle is and was the most admired failure in a program full of them. It is the deadliest launch vehicle since the early 60s, it cost $1.5b per flight, and stifled space-going innovation for three decades. While it has existed, it has siphoned off more than half of NASA’s budget, although it is by no means the only high-priced failure.
Only now that both it and its successor (Orion/Ares) have resulted in abject collapse has commercial innovation been able to begin the push towards true access to space, using technology that is simpler and more reliable than the overly complex and convoluted engineering that went into the government produced, government run boondoggle that was the Shuttle.
And because there is a burst of innovation that coincides with the death of the Shuttle, I say Goodbye, and Good Riddance.