With yesterday's launch of the space shuttle we are one mission closer to the scheduled retirement of the shuttle. The plans for post shuttle space missions is now being reviewed and that is a good thing. The current plan for future missions looks like a step backward opting for a vehicle very like the Apollo capsule in both configuration and function. Here's my common sense suggestion for a space program to move us forward. First we must look critically at the space shuttle. It is a vehicle which has three functions, none of which it does well (or at least as well as could be done). First it is the vehicle for transporting personnel into space. If that were it's only function it could be about one tenth the size it is. The reason for it's size is it's second funtion, that of moving cargo into space. It's third function is being a workstation in space. I propose a three part space program, effectivly seperating the three funtions. First a 'space plane' for moving people into space. It would be able to carry a crew of six or seven yet small enough to be launched from the wing of a large aircraft at high altitude and fly directly into space. It would capitalize on the technologies for reusable space craft developed by the shuttle program. Second, the use of expendable rockets to lift cargo into space. This is off the shelf technology. Third, a permanently orbiting 'space crane' taking the place of the robotic arm on the shuttle. This vehicle would have the ability to 'fly' to other orbits to capture and repair sattelites, but would be stationed near the space station providing housing for the crew. This three part system would reduce cost as people could be easily and efficiently move to and from space.Cargo could be sent anytime regardless of the comings and goings of people, using proven and cost effective expendable rockets without the danger to people inherant with every shuttle flight. The new 'space crane' would provide a valuable tool for repairs and service, always on call. This would also give us the ability to assemble future moon mission vehicles in space which could 'fly' to the moon and back to the space station without the need for the expensive ability to transit through atmosphere. No, I'm not an engineer, just someone who makes my living by applying common sense, I'm a general building contractor.