The program is in terrible disarray, essentially because budget cuts forced engineers to make shortcuts in designs, which led to shortcuts in safety. It seems that half a space program is NOT better than none.

What a shame that the NASA engineers tried so hard to make things work with inadequate resources. I’ll bet the odds are a thousand to one that the agency will get the proper oversight and funding to recover from the shuttle program properly.

This article has a great retrospective on the program, if you have the time to read it. Here’s a sample article comment on the effect of funding restrictions affecting shuttle design:

“The Soviet Shuttle, the Buran (snowstorm) was an aerodynamic clone of the American orbiter, but incorporated many original features that had been considered and rejected for the American program, such as all-liquid rocket boosters, jet engines, ejection seats and an unmanned flight capability. You know you’re in trouble when the Russians are adding safety features to your design.”