something i feel is being overlooked here is a lot of the factors that made the shuttle so absurdly expendsive are things that were forseen. the space shuttle as it was originally proposed was to be a part of a larger space transport system and was supposed to be the military and government's go to vehicle for launching anything and was supposed to pull something on the order of 20+ launches a year launching all kinds of space hardware. now clearly this didnt happen as the last mission was STS-135 and not STS-600. 20 launches a year makes a reusable vehicle very practical. pulling an average of 4 a year makes a reusable vehicle an expensive choice. these are things that were brought up even before the OV-101 Enterprise made its first flight because the DOD and other government agencies did not want to use the space shuttle. and its not like we're the only show in town, the russians have been flying soyuz capsules since before the shuttle was a twinkle in von braun's eye while smaller the disposable craft allow for an easier time refining the space craft over the decades and boast a mere $1500 a pound of payload to LEO vs the space shuttle's $9000 and because you're not servicing a reusable craft it doesnt mandate a frenetic schedule to make it cost effective and this is without even going into private space contractors who are dirt cheap in omparison.
also i have to say this because i feel like i will be seen as someone who hates the shuttle or something, i love the damn thing. i really do, i cant not love it. its the space craft that i grew up with and even just the white on black space plane asthetic is so completely iconic of exploration and human endeavor. the thing is its a little like seeing a sibling who is making very bad choices in their life, you love them you'll always love them no matter what they do and you'll always see the best in them. but if youre honest with yourself you know they can do better.