A Rocket To Nowhere: This is a brutal but facinating essay on the shuttle program. The author makes a compelling case that the program is less than worthless and should be abandoned — along with the ISS — as soon as possible.
While half the NASA budget gets eaten by the manned space program, the other half is quietly spent on true aerospace work and a variety of robotic probes of immense scientific value. All of the actual exploration taking place at NASA is being done by unmanned vehicles. And when some of those unmanned craft fail, no one is killed, and the unmanned program is not halted for three years. […]
NASA is convinced that stopping the Shuttle program would mean an indefinite end to American manned space flight, and so it will go to almost any length to make sure there is a continuous manned presence in space. […] But this attitude is actually doing damage to the prospects of real manned space exploration. Sinking half the NASA budget into the Shuttle and ISS precludes the possibility of doing truly groundbreaking work on space flight.
It’s long, but worth reading. Via Kottke