Time after time NASA has developed capabilities at great expense then discarded them: a space station larger than the Soviet MIR, a heavy lift vehicle competitive with the new Soviet Energia, a nuclear engine twice as efficient as the space shuttle main engine and a well tested Earth-Moon transport.
The fate of the Saturn V heavy lift launch vehicle is one of the saddest examples of this folly. Production was intentionally halted and portions of its tooling were "lost". This bridge burning ensured support for the next aerospace welfare program: the space shuttle. Now we have a grounded government shuttle that can lift a third as much as the Saturn V for the same cost per pound. That's progress, government style.
Even worse, this failed state monopoly is now wrecking businesses to avoid well deserved embarassment. American companies desperately need to get their satellites into space. They have been blocked from using the cheapest, most reliable launcher in the world which unfortuneately happens to be the Soviet Proton.
NASA has cost our nation a full twenty years in space development, twenty years that has seen the Soviet Union surpass us to an extent that may well be irreparable. It is inconceivable that a private firm could have committed such follies and survived. NASA deserves no better.
Our only hope now lies in the power of free individuals risking their own resources for their own dreams. We must recognize the government led space program is dead and the corpse must be buried as soon as possible. Any defense functions should be put under the military, and the rest of NASA should be sold to private operators. The reciepts would be applied to the national debt. Then, all government roadblocks to commercial development of space must be removed.
It is not the business of the defense department of a free society to veto business decisions of remote sensing or launch companies. The interests of liberty would be well served by a bevy of mediasats that will put any future Iran-Contra affair under the full glare of live television coverage. Maybe, besides competition, that's what our government is afraid of.
There is really only one proper role for the military in space or on Earth: the protection of America. Otherwise, the new fronteir of Space should be opened to all. Space pioneers will generate knowledge and wealth that will improve the lot of all people on earth. We should not let government get in their way.