This may wrap up our “Scuttling the Shuttle” series. Historian Roger Launius puts in his two cents on his terrific blog. He’s taking a Baltic cruise and giving a bunch of fascinating lectures for the Smithsonian Journeys program. Where do I sign up?
At any rate, Launius describes a lecture called “Whither the Space Shuttle?”:
This presentation reviews the history and legacy of the Space Shuttle program after thirty years. It suggests that while the shuttle was not an unadulterated success, on balance it served a venerable role in spaceflight and deserves an overall positive assessment in history. Additionally, the Space Shuttle provided three decades of significant human spaceflight capability and stretched the nature of what could be accomplished in Earth orbit much beyond anything envisioned previously. Most significantly since the American human spaceflight program has always been focused in national prestige, the Space Shuttle served well as a symbol of American technological verisimilitude. Finally, this presentation discusses the retirement of the Space Shuttle and possibilities for the future of human spaceflight.