Yes, folks, they’ve managed to spend millions of dollars assessing the shuttle, finding the faults and fixing them, only to find they can’t build it worth a damn. With the money they spend on the shuttles, and the space program in all, it must be possible to build something that doesn’t crack at the first sign of use. Surely we are well past the point where the shuttles need replacing, yet there is no successor on the horizon. The current shuttle is an ice-age old in technological terms. Obviously it undergoes upgrades, but let’s not forget, it still jetisons it’s external load with every flight, so it’s hardly ‘reusable.’ Stop wasting money fixing something that’s broke and get someone to build a cheap, completely reusable shuttle to replace it with. If you can develop and build SpaceShipOne for about $20 million, you can build a new shuttle for what NASA spend keeping the old ones running.
Update (20/04/05): Apparently NASA has decided that they will ignore the independent advisory commitee set up to enact the recommendations of the investigation into the Columbia disaster should they not give them a go for launch next month. Although only a slim chance by the sounds of it. What’s the point of having it if they aren’t going to listen?