So here are the problems, Americans have not been able to put astronauts into Space for the last 2 and a half years. They have been asking Russians for a lift for astronauts on the ISS, space station experiments and asked Russia for a lift in order to keep USA's manned space flight going.
There might be a lot of work ahead for NASA, possible Hubble repair, a bulk of construction work on the ISS and bringing the space science up to speed. Some info on Shuttle here
The Space Shuttle was an was an incredible machine for its day but it is old now and their are risks with it. The USA still needs to do a heap of work on the ISS addition of an integrated truss structure, lifting up the Centrifuge Accomodations Module, adding the 3rd node.....
I saw some of this mentioned in the 'Biggest Payloads' thread. So far Shuttle has been re-vamped but is costing 15 billion dollars and it still hasn't flown.
Could the USA do much of the work with a method like the Saturn-V or Energia-Polyus launch for their space transportation system to space ?
This would decrease the number of Shuttle launches and less human lives would be at risk. They would also launch larger payloads by sending up large station parts without Shuttle