I know this will sound stupid. I really do. But - in the early 20th century and the early years of flight people took risks, and hell i think didn't design for anything except *achievement* in mind. I can't imagine riding into space with several 10's of thousands of tonnes of LoX,LH2 etc. ever being *safe*.
I close my eyes, and remember the "risky" (seriously risky) science books i read. Using Tetrachloromethane (Carbon Tet) to it's friends. Mercury, other things. (Shudders at the fibrous asbestos we picked out of the pipes around Wymondham College - all nissan huts).
Bet a load of older slashdotters actually *built* those oh so dangerous science experiments from SciAm in the old days - come on! i know you're out there and breathing still
---> Bureaucracy is a killer
It's only the *dreamer's* inside NASA/JPL that kept enough alive. But what do we have to point to to motivate the kids now? I grew up dreaming of the grand tour of the solar system, manned missions to Mars
Personally, I reckon if Elon Musk can reboot, reload our visions then good luck to him
My gut instinct is that 10-20 years from now, the biggest provider of finance to SpaceX will be - the Chinese, not NASA - $100million is chicken feed....