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If you are talking about how the space shuttle program was ended then I actually definetely do not see that in itself as a waste.
The space shuttle flew on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. 5 were built. Countless scientific advances were made, both while designing and testing the vehicle itself and also from its actual missions. That is 30 years of scientific service. Of course there were 2 very regretful catastrophic failures, but that is to be expected in such a frontier field. Even the failures taught scientists a huge deal. I think overall this is a very succesful track record and useful for all of humanity.
But its time is simply over. It’s an awesome beast of a space ship, but it’s extremely inefficient. One launch of the space shuttle on average cost about 500 million dollars.
There have been two major design philosophies as far as I know in spaceship engineering. The US with the Space Shuttle opted for the high tech highly advanced technology route. This builds an awesome space craft, but it’s extremely expensive. Compare with the soviet soyuz which by now is a pretty ancient design (first launch 1966) and has always been the cheap, robust, basic plumbing type of deal.
They are both viable stategies for a while, but the soyuz is still flying. Building a basic robust non reusable type of spacecraft is so much cheaper and technically so much less complex that they can still get away with it. The problem with the high tech reusable aproach is the technology will be outdated. Then it would be yesterdays extremely expensive to upkeep inefficient high tech. While the low tech option stays pretty much the same. Just revamp the guidance computers and things every once in a while. Since you have to build a new one for every launch any way that is not that difficult.
So I think it was just the space shuttles time to go. It is sad, but to me not as sad as this other space shuttle that didn’t even get a chance to fly one manned mission.
The real big waste with ending the US space shuttle program for me was not having a viable cheaper smaller alternative. Orion should’ve been funded better and done by then. Luckily there are quite a few private companies developing and already flying new spacecraft by now though.