The end of the shuttle era was such a sad moment, to me. To see this amazingly ambitious technology succeed is such a shot in the arm for American space exploration.
I've really enjoyed watching the progress of SpaceX -- Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Dragon, etc. They have done a pretty good job in keeping the general public informed via twitter, live video, etc.
It is wonderful to see America going back to space, especially with private industry in the lead. Last week's funding of Boeing, SpaceX and others is real progress. NASA/JPL is great for science missions like Curiosity, but space trucks/buses should be done by vendors.
I visited the Rockwell shuttle assembly areas back in the late 70s. I'm glad to see it retired. Reminded me of a camel -- a horse designed by a committee. It never came close to meeting any
of the design goals, whether safety, turnaround time, costs, military payloads, etc.
It is vital to lower the cost of getting payloads to orbit, but the pork-laden NASA process can't do that. Elon Musk & SpaceX seem to understand how to do it.
Another interesting tweet "from" Curiosity --
Look out below! What descent to the surface of Mars looked like from my POV #MSL #MARDI [video] http://bit.ly/OIqmBW