Originally Posted by tomcatjosh
Well yeah they stole the shuttle design and improved it.
Apparently they had the "Auto Pilot" function working well enough to launch and land it without any "On-Board Astro/Cosmo-nauts. That should have been something our shuttles should have had from the start. That way they could have sent up cargos without the need for charging the life support systems, using it as a delivery system for construction and then sending up a crew to do the assembly. Still would have been a bit convoluted using a man-rated vehicle for mere delivery and separate missions for crewed assembly. This is where a smaller crew-only shuttle would have been ideal to develop, leaving a larger work-horse shuttle to deliver and return cargo without additionally endangering a crew. The shuttle-c would have been such a vehicle, but the smaller shuttle would have still been needed to transfer crew.