NASA's in trouble. Big trouble. This article in NewScientist describes some of the agency's problems, most of which come down to Not Enough Money. One point stands out: if President Obama was to throw his support behind the struggling Ares/Orion program (to develop a new manned rocket for missions to orbit, the Moon, and possibly Mars) it might survive. The problem? In President Obama's recent speech on science funding, manned spaceflight was conspicuously absent. Not good news at all.
Does this mean America is getting out of the human spaceflight business? Personally, I don't think so. I think we may actually be getting into the actual business of putting people in orbit. That's "business" as in "for-profit venture" rather than "government monopoly." NASA has already hired SpaceX to deliver supplies to the International Space Station -- although a rival launch consortium has challenged the contract because they claim they made the better offer. But if actual corporations are fighting over the contract, that means someone expects to make money off the job.
So there may be a silver lining here: the age of NASA may be drawing to a close, forty years after their greatest triumph. But out of the ashes we may see a more robust private space infrastructure rise, one that isn't subject to the whims of political leaders.
If not, well, maybe we can hitch a ride with India.