It seems like every single blog on the internet has an ode of some sort to the downed space shuttle. Not all are positive — Laurel things that it’s time to privatize (i.e. close) NASA because it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money. I think it’s important not to confuse the spirit of discovery that allowed man to go to space, and the particular method by which that is being done today.
The International Space Station, (whose massive cost overruns may well have caused maintenance failures that caused Columbia to blow up) is a perfect example of the wrong approach to take to space exploration. The ISS is a typical result of multinational bureaucracies trying to make a political statement (under a scientific cover) and I could have told you with near certainty when this plan was just an idea that the true cost of the ISS was wildly underestimated. In an age when space tourism has become practical (as the Russians have shown) and commercial satellites are launched on a regular basis, a government-run space agency should stick to military applications, and leave the space exploration to businessmen. Skeptics will complain that there is not enough research money for a private version of the ISS, but I bet if the government allowed private enterprise to decide which areas research should go to I am sure that the results would be much better, even if a private ISS takes longer to build.