It was a dumb design from the beginning.
1) You don't haul cargo in the same vehicle as humans. Cargo doesn't need the super-expensive "last 1%" reliability that a human crew demands.
2) You don't put the vehicle next to the rocket. You put it on top, where ice can't hit it, and exploding booster rockets are survivable. The astronauts on the Challenger, as least some of them, survived the explosion and died on impact with the water. A small crew capsule perched on the top, with a parachute system, might, just might, have survived.
3) You don't need humans up there at all. The future, for a generation or two at least, is unmanned exploration of the solar system. Look at where virtually all the meaningful scientific knowledge has come from in the last 20 - 40 - 60 years: unmanned probes.