While we have Reagan to thank for starting the budget sucking monstrosity that is today's ISS, he did perform a great service. And it had nothing to do with the monolithic NASA.
When Reagan took office, in the US, there were only two ways to launch payloads into space- either via the Space Shuttle (expensive) or via the Air Force (also expensive). All launches were made with a government launch vehicle.
There was a push for private space development in the early 80's, but significant regulatory obstacles remained. Legal launch ranges. FCC for frequencies. FAA for air clearance, EPA for environmental impact studies. Even the State Dept. regarding international treaties (notably with the USSR, of course).
Quote from the article-
When this issue was raised to the president, it piqued his interest. Having lived through the early history of the space program, during which only of government agencies went into space, he had never considered the possibility of private companies doing so. But it resonated strongly with his basic philosophy of freedom and individualism, so he decided to make it happen. He held a cabinet meeting at which the main issue under discussion was not whether or not to do it, but how and where, with the two candidates being the Department of Commerce, under Malcolm Baldrige, and the Department of Transportation, under Elizabeth (now Senator) Dole. In accordance with his natural predilections, the decision was made on the basis of which department would be the most nurturing of the new industry and provide the fewest hindrances.
Apparently Secretary Dole was the most persuasive in that regard, because in 1983 the president signed an executive order establishing an Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Department of Transportation, which would issue launch licenses. In 1984, Congress codified this into law in the Commercial Space Launch Act, and Reagan was pleased to sign it.
The Challenger tragedy spurred things along a great deal (somewhat unfortunate, but true).
So, when out in Mojave in a few weeks Scaled Composites exercises their new FAA license (it's supposed to be soon), realize that Reagan is the one who championed for such private activity.
On June 21, the world will see the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.
Way to go, Burt.