NASA: Commercial Partners Are Making Progress, but Face Aggressive Schedules to Demonstrate Critical SpaceStation Cargo Transport CapabilitiesThis report came out a while ago (June) yet despite its dry title and content, highlights a important point. Namely, that to push boundaries (technological/economical/scientific) we need to get commercial enterprise involved. In other words the activity needs to demonstrate such an opportunity for profit that many individuals and corporations are willing to risk fortunes for even larger fortunes. This was true in the settling of the New World and in the expansion of information technology and is absolutely true of the human settlement of space. Government can't just keep doing what its doing and chucking folks through the atmosphere. We need folks to try something new and explore new possibilities that may lead to dramatic breakthroughs.
Furthermore, as this report shows, "government" has a role this process of discovery. For space exploration NASA is wise to give a stream of money to reach a goal (service the space station) and then allow the companies go at it. Hopefully the companies will be successful and it will lead to more involvement of corporations willing to risk the big bucks for even bigger bucks.