With the last mission of the shuttle program over yesterday after the landing of the Atlantis, a glorious chapter in human innovation and enterprise has come to an end. The question now is what next? First of all NASA is going to be without a human launcher to space. How come no alternative was worked out before retiring the shuttle? It leaves only the Russians with a space delivery platform for humans. It's surprising that the US didn't come out with the next generation of launchers before retiring the shuttles.