The mood at NASA is mixed. Some are upset, some are hopeful for the future. Most are somewhere on the spectrum in between. NASA employes 17k - 18k civil servants, so opinions are all over the map.
One of the biggest challenges is articulating the future. With names for our new vehicles being the SLS and MPCV, it is tough to get people to connect.
But this is how I see where we are going and I am warming to the idea:
Retire the shuttle
, which allows us to have the resources to do some of the groundbreaking tech development some accuse us of not doing (which, for the record, we are doing)
ISS through at least 2020
. We have a continued US crew on the Station doing world class research that benefits us here on earth. Some of the vaccine research they are doing is amazing since viruses and bacteria are much more virulent in space, we can isolate the parts that make them so bad and eliminate them. Also, since we are now a National Lab, lots more opportunity for private companies and universities to take advantage of using our capabilities.
Create a new commercial market for low earth orbit:
allows the U.S. to create a entire new economy and drive competitive tech development. It also gives us options on how best to get to low earth orbit and the ISS.
We shift shuttle resources
to a new heavy lift rocket and a crew capsule to allow us to do what only the government can afford and accomplish: go explore space. Asteroid in 2020's, Mars in 2030's.
There are several new NASA advanced tech development programs
that are getting started that will create massive improvements in our space operations. They want high-risk, high-return programs looking at propulsion improvements, advanced life support, resource recycling, radiation abatement, etc.
We keep a healthy science and aeronautics budget.
Been on a plane lately? air traffic control software? NASA. Winglets that reduce turbulence and increase efficiency by up to 30%? NASA. Google NASA spinoffs, its crazy the amount of tech that we create.