Getting Space Exploration Right
Getting Space Exploration Right by Robert Zubrin, is a detailed critical analysis of NASA, the politics of Space planning, and the current Space Plan - post shuttle - with suggestion on how to it better. It's a long-ish but rewarding read.
related stuff: the Russian are way ahead in building the next Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) with their successor to the Soyuz, called Kliper (or sometimes "Clipper"?) (see from 2005: The Russians Are Coming, and New Russian Spacecraft On Show In France In June) is a six-crew reusable space capsule, weighing 14.5 tonnes (twice a big as a Soyuz), and being developed by RKK Energiya.
additional info : http://www.russianspaceweb.com/kliper.html;
Also of note is that Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, signed a long-term agreement with the European Space Agency to allow Russia to establish Soyuz rocket-launch facilities at ESA's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This will allow them to lift bigger cargoes to more useful orbits.
The Russian and ESA are well ahead of building (or re-building) the infrastructure of dependable LOE access, and beyond.
May 4th update : some more details of Lockheed Martin proposed CEV shuttle replacement in (via futurismic.com) Popular Mechanics and Space.com, which looks to be at least doable, although worries remain valid.
here's the wikipedia entry on the Crew Exploration Vehicle
Categorized under: Space