Looks like space shuttle Discovery is all right and can return safely to earth a lil' over a week from now. And even the whole foam shrapnel problem is being dealt with, possibly allowing the September launch of ( I think ) space shuttle Atlantis.
Now Atlantis is the important misson launch. Discovery was just for resupplying the ISS and testing flight safety procedures. When Atlantis goes into space, it will be carrying new sections of the unfinished space station that are long overdue. I'm excited ! This station is a huge step into space.
NASA is already working on pushing further into our solar system, leaving the earth orbit work to future private enterprise. This means that the Federal government is lessening it's grip on travel off planet. Potentially this might allow entreprenours to ply their ideas and breakthroughs for getting into low/middle/upper earth orbit and beyond. And since this is business based on eventual profits rather than a beaurocratic behemoth like NASA which isn't based on accountable profit making, we could see some REAL innovations! Private enterprise tends to be more productive than Federal agencies.
Possible private experiments could include Solar Sails, Improved satalight telecommunications, compounds developed in near zero-g environments, Biomedical tests, Plasma rockets, and even a few tantalizing theories postulated by Robert Winglee. Not to mention the prospect of mining asteroids in deep space for rare or even previously unknown substances ! Like I said, I'm excited !
Of course, this will start slow. Just tourists briefly hopping into low earth orbit, then after that will be resorts for longer stays. Eventually multiple deep space stations for permanent residents both scientific and otherwise. What we rilly need right now is a major breakthrough on artificial gravity that is economical, functional, and reliable. Well, that and extending the human lifespan (hopefully indefinitly) !
Live long and prosper, dude.