What many people also don't realize is the true cost of the space shuttle program relative to other government spending. Over 30 years, the entire life of the program, the U.S. government spent about $200 billion on it.
Over the same timeframe the U.S. Department of Defense spent about $15 trillion dollars. The army alone gets more funding in a single fiscal year than NASA spent on the space shuttle over the course of three decades. Almost three times as much money has been spent on the F-35 fighter jet program, and the plane hasn't even entered active service yet.
Yes and not long ago I saw that NASA was working on a rocket that could maybe pull a manned trip to Mars for $500 million. That's peanuts compared to a shuttle launch, given the fact the shuttle cost at least that much for a launch if not actually more and hardly makes it out of the atmosphere.
Every government program is just an excuse to waste tax payer money and redistribute wealth. I'm all for space exploration as long as it's privatized. NASA (and every other government bureaucracy) can't be trusted to spend money wisely.