What I find even more heartbreaking is the baffling lack of progress we have really made in the scheme of things. An artificial probe only left the solar system for the first time in 2013 and as of yet no human has ever left the Earth's orbit let alone reach another planet or moon. It seems we are too buried in our phones to look up at the (lack of) stars anymore.
I believe our government has been in contact with ET's for decades, and have learned just how much tech / knowledge is required for effective space travel. I think launching tin cans into orbit has become less of a priority as a result; especially considering we have no buisness leaving earth till we have our own soykaf sorted out as a species.
The US isn't lacking launch capacity unless you're talking about humans. if you recall the pluto/KBO flyby mission "new horizons", that was launched from a us location on a us rocket, a delta iv, which also launched some other well known large recent payloads, such as the Mars Science Laboratory. The delta iv is a pretty capable launch vehicle, as are other smaller rockets in its family.
but that's pedantic because its obvious that you are talking about humans.
I suppose, I am not wholly sure what you desire for that state to do, however. The US could develop a parallel system to the Soyuz, but it would take an awful lot to make it as reliable as Soyuz, and perhaps more pertinent would be the question of what in the world is it for: probably if the US/Russia collaboration falls apart the entire future of the ISS would be drawn into question, and its possible the US would have no further desire to send crews there to begin with. that is, if the US uses access to soyuz, it probably also looses its use for a soyuz like vehicle.
As it stands the ISS is sort of questionably useful, I have a tendency to ramble so I shan't try to go into that.
if the US, or any state, is seeking to send humans to some meaningful destination, then its probably useful for that state to have means to send humans to space. as it stands neither the US nor any other country, with the possible exception of China, seem to be actively pursuing an expanded programme of human spaceflight to a destination apart from the ISS. The US is in its perpetual state of 'mars, soon' or 'moon again, soon'. But without a clear, achievable goal (which means, without a goal and the funding to get there) neither nasa nor anyone has much need of a system to launch humans into space.
considering the current state of NASA's budget, its probably more economical to pursue robotic projects for the foreseeable future.
Humans are expensive. they are periodically useful, and certainly some projects could incorporate human geologists, pilots, and other scientists to great effect in the role of astronauts. but as it stands, there are many places that have yet to be explored to the extent that's entierly achievable through robotic means.
to give a quick example: the outer planets of Uranus and Neptune, and their systems of satellites.
these were visited both briefly by the Voyager II probe after its flyby of Saturn. In the course of that mission we got images showing large chunks of several moons, but in poor resolution compared to what could reasonably be achieved with modern instruments. The resolution however, was enough to show some interesting features, the icy surface of triton is certainly interesting, and as evidenced by the presence of geysers active during the Voyager flyby, its not inactive.
In the Uranian System, we have other fascinating moons, among them miranda, with very massive cliffs. In light of the discoveries of oceans in the Jovian and Saturnian Systems, its not inconceivable that Miranda could perhaps have similar history, though it probably deserves closer inspection, and perhaps its entirely different.
A probable profile for missions to either of those destinations would be similar to the Cassini or Galileo Missions of recent years, to Saturn and Jupiter respectively. Such missions were very enlightening, and provided long term observation that are very useful to understanding these systems, and can be done without astronauts in the vicinity.
often it seems like there are competing goals when it comes to pursuit of spaceflight. On one hand, we have patriotic chest-beaters, who see space travel as an assertion of their State's engineering and technical prowess. At the same time there are some people within the space programme who, living mostly as engineers see space as an engineering problem where they can do cool engineering things. Still again, there are some people who see space travel as a means to advance exploration and learn to better understand the universe.
in the end of course, though, all of this is happening, is contingent on the presence of money to make it happen. for the moment the US's government seems more intent on removing healthcare access from large numbers of people, and on provoking nuclear war, so I cant particularly imagine them piling the billions of us dollars onto NASA that would be necessary to make significant new strides in its engineering, science, and chest beating objectives.