Personally, I think the Space Shuttle ran for too long
Seriously, it should have been replaced with something better many years ago, instead of keeping the old dinosaur running. The Shuttle wasn't anywhere near as reusable as it was supposed to be, and a heck of a lot more expensive per launch.
Unfortunately, because it wasn't replaced and nobody was even working on a replacement, we're now in a situation where it got cancelled with no replacement the moment the economy got bad.
Orion looks like a bad joke - It's only a bigger Apollo, far too little, far too late. Hopefully cheap, but I doubt it given the main contractors. It won't fly for several years anyway.
At this rate, China will have cheap, manned heavy lift and return long before the US gets it back or the ESA (ha!) get any at all.
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