Wired has an article by Gregg Easterbrook which discusses the problems of NASA I mostly agree with his analysis but his 4th place recommended priority Figure out a way to replace today’s chemical rockets with a much cheaper way to reach Earth orbit should be first.
I also believe that laser arrays (preferrably with mirrors), magnetic launch systems (coilguns, magnetic rails, magbeam for orbital boost) and tether systems are the technologies that should be pursued I believe that the laser arrays take advantage of the rapid improvement in lasers. Solid state lasers that had less than 15 KW of maximum power in 2003 will have about 100kw in 2007
The space review also has an article indicating the importance and need for space based solar power However, I believe we can skip the development of lunar mining by using te simplified construction methods of inflation of structures (magnetically or with gas) and formation flying. This allow for simple but large thin film structures to be fully constructed on earth and launched and deployed in orbit.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.