RAND SIMBERG: End Of The Shuttle Era: 24 Years after Challenger. “The Shuttle is and was a magnificent technological achievement, but it is not, and in retrospect, never was the key to opening up space, despite the hopes and hype of the seventies. If it makes it into next year, it will have flown for almost three decades, and for a quarter of a century, since early 1986, with the knowledge that it had failed the promises of cheap, safe access that had been made when the program was initiated almost four decades earlier. It will be the end of an era for NASA, from a naive assumption that there is a single government-operated solution to space transportation, to a more mature and robust future of a variety of space transports, for humans and cargo, in a thriving commercial sector. That is a future that will finally fulfill the failed promise of the Shuttle.”