Factor #1: A requirements hurricane turbulently blew in one direction without control and consistency. It settled down in the 'eye of the storm', and then management said, 'Oh snap, we want it this way', and another turbulent hurricane blew in the opposite direction - without time or skill to change all the original requirements. These problems metastasize through all remaining steps of development.
Factor#2: Management said, "We need this big thing real quick. Lets get a big consulting firm to do it." Several firms gleefully responded.
Factor#3: Management told the selected consulting firm, "We need all of the big thing to go live at once, and remember we need it real quick." Big teams can be very productive, but only when they are carefully grown over a period of years. Quickly assembled big teams become a swamp that absorb money and grow weeds.
The $40-$50 million is just a down payment. Having built a kudzu swamp to serve an Internet market that is rapidly changing, the NYT will spend that amount several times over in the next 5 years to update it and keep it maintained.
We have at least 2 US companies building space launch capability, and several other international "space launch for hire" organizations are operating. NASA's Ares rocket development was a waste of money, and Obama was right to stop it. Let the commercial space trucking business competition get started, and lets try to get new US companies to be the winners in this business. Neil Armstrong is stuck in 1969, but meanwhile, "the times, they are a'changin'".
Judge Vaughn R. Walker should get the Presidential Freedom Award. He has told everyone in government that we are all equal under the law. Even President Bush and NSA spooks don't get a free pass to lawless behavior. As VP Biden would say - this is a BIG F*'g deal - not just for illegal wire taps, but for all kinds of lawless behavior that has been (still is) been done by government employees.
NASA had a vision in the 1980s to become "the trucking company of space", which is akin to the idea of weekly launches. They hired expensive consultants to help them prepare for that future. They ran into at least two brick walls. One was the lack of funding. The second was a culture of being risk averse. The Atlantis crash was used by the risk averse to force the culture everywhere. NASA is now coasting on its resources and is a small shadow of its original dream - being only an occasional developer and launcher of small science probes.
The future of space will be created by corporate development and launch organizations. They will bring a higher risk tolerance to ventures. Some accidents will happen, just as in the early days of air flight. But the flip side is that much more progress will be made, as we have seen from the results of competition in the airplane industry as it developed over the past 80+ years. Some cluster of corporate ventures will eventually produce weekly launches. NASA will not be a party to them. Their dream has passed. Corporations will compete for success and resources, and pass by NASA's shadow.