<font color="yellow">"The Shuttle is a lot more than just a satelite launcher, which is what all of those smaller rockets were/are. "</font><br /><br />Yes. Well a Swiss Army knife is a lot more than just a knife. But that doesn't mean that its scissors can do the job as well as a nice pair of Fiskars, or that its saw can do the job as well as a good handsaw, or that the tweezers are good for anything... anything at all. By contrast -- it's a heckuva lot larger, heavier and more expensive than a pocketknife of comparable quality.<br /><br />The shuttle orbiters are indeed the most capable spacecraft ever built. However, that capability consists of the ability to do a couple of things well, and a couple of dozen other things half-*ssed. The <b>price</b> for all of that capability is a huge and heavy spacecraft that is simply too expensive to operate for the benefits returned.