Jeffrey F. Bell writes in SpaceDaily:
One of the most annoying things about NASA is that its dysfunctional management wastes a huge amount of effort on projects long after they are clearly doomed.
You know, I can't agree with him more. I think the space program in general and manned space flight in particular is a noble pursuit for mankind, but I also think that the NASA approach (post - Apollo, of course) is pretty much guaranteed to waste truly monumental amounts of money.
As Jeffrey notes, NASA has no plan to keep ISS in operation once it's built. No plan at all. You spend billions of dollars on a project, but because you didn't plan ahead, it takes 3 people to just keep the station running, leaving you only 5 hours a week to do research.
Whether or not you think that ISS can do meaningful research, it's pretty clear that if your crew only has 5 hours a week of time, you're not going to get much done.
No disrespect to the majority of people at NASA who work hard at their jobs, nor to the JPL folks (okay, some of them don't technically work for NASA). It's all about the missions that are being chosen.
The price tag for ISS is around $10 billion for the US modules, plus the shuttle flights to lift and assemble the modules (running somewhere in excess of $500 million each flight).
NASA needs to go back to their roots. They did not build Apollo right off the bat. They built Mercury, flew a little, then they build Gemini, flew a bunch more, and only then did they build Apollo. And when Apollo 1 happened, they made real changes and built a system that worked well for 9 manned flights (12 if you count ASTP and Skylab)
What could Scaled do with $100 milllion?