I have always wondered the logic of space shuttles. That thing cost almost $2 B (not counting design and development cost) to build and about $500 M to launch. Most of the stuff that is used during the launch is not coming back either. At the same time Ariane cost about $600M per build.
And then we have the "next generation" space exploration vehicle, which will be (with three quarters of probability -sic- will be completed in 2015) which, of course will cost about $15 B to build.
All these should be compared to the $18M X-prize winning spaceship. Yes, yes I know, that was experimental, went only to the outskirts of earth, technically, outer space. So, how come when NASA build something, it becomes a monstrosity?
Then I got a few tidbits dating from Nixon era, how he wanted to build something that is specifically suited for secret spying satellites and various classified military missions. That makes everything so clear. If you want to make something that works 100 times less efficiently with 1000 times more money, all you need is a classified project funded by American military and NASA !!!!