The shuttle programme is a big one I think. Humans are looking for other planets to move to when the Earth passes its sell by date. But without the technology and research the shuttle programme can offer, humans will never be able to perfect long distance space flight and therefore never be able to start life on a new planet!
The space elevator... would be fun but really without a point. I mean, where would it go? Personally, I would love to relaunch the shuttle program pun intended to work on constructing an outpost on the moon. Use it as a jumping off point to launch a manned mission to Mars, and see what Mars is good for. Plus, with the shuttle program over, what is the point of the ISS now?
The space elevator would act as a local launch point which would also help in establishing a moon base. It could even turn into a space port so that shuttles wouldn't have to renter to switch crew or resupply.
But where to put the base. It would have to receive international cooperation for it to really have staying power. International waters? Europe? North America? Any one country with control would instantly get a boost to their economical and geo-political power.
I'm all for the elevator, but I think that it would be a huge waste of tax-payer money for it to be built in the current economy. Instead I believe we should be prudent and start with a space escalator or even a space staircase, then, pending the success of these initial projects, we could move forward and begin the elevator once we know its a sure thing. The astronauts need all the exercise they can get when they're in zero-g's anyway... the staircase would be good for them.
A space elevator would be great, but we've already been making big cuts to NASA as it is... I just don't see how anything nearly like a space elevator budget would be taken seriously by the congressional comities. The most annoying part is that the money that NASA uses is a relatively small amount compared to the other things the US gov't spends its resources on...
I guess the only somewhat feasible option for an elevator would have to be an international, cooperative project that is largely financed by emerging economies wanting to flex their newly developped financial muscles.
well there has been a few major industry players looking into mining asteroids for resources. if that even happens, and god save me i hope it does, it would automatically spike interest in the public, political, and industrial fields. eventually if operations continue into space and becomes profitable, hopefully, it will draw attention to stream lining the process with advances in technology such as space elevators, Magnetically Accelerated Cannons for lifting materials up with reduced effort and an increase in exploration of space for more materials. just as i was writing this down, i was thinking about the possibility of having the UNSC come into existence, i also realize that this sorta stuff led to the discovery of the xenomorphs and the Covenant.