Well, the United States has indefinitely given up on independently flying to space. It’s time to hurry up and start seriously working on a new NASA vehicle to launch humans into space.
For those who say that not using the Shuttle anymore is no big deal because it is so old, look at how old many of the aircraft still flying are. A thirty year operational life isn’t really that long. It is common to upgrade avionics and keep using an airplane for decades. This is what NASA did with the Shuttle. This doesn’t mean we should keep using the Shuttle, just that saying it is thirty years old and so must be eliminated is a bad argument. Now that it is no longer flying, we need a major NASA effort (bigger and better funded than the ones I know of) to create a replacement. I’m sure we can come up with a vehicle that is safer and less expensive to operate. Unfortunately, Congress seems to be saying, “Probes, telescopes, or manned flight. Pick one. Maybe.”
The photo is from NASA’s STS-135 site.