The Rockets’ Red Ink: from EELV to a Competitive Future for Space Launches
Dec 16/13: FY 2014 Production. United Launch Services LLC in Littleton, CO receives a $530.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification (though $679 million in FY 2014 funds is committed immediately). They’ll produce the following configurations: Air Force Atlas V 501, Air Force Atlas V 511, Air Force Delta IV 4,2, Air Force Delta IV 5,4, and a National Reconnaissance Organization Delta IV Heavy.
It’s part of an existing sole-source contract that runs from FY 2014 through 2017, but orders for FY 2015-2019 will have to be exercised separately. Recall that the FY 2014 budget (q.v. April 10/13) begins a split between EELV Launch Capability (ELC) and Launch Services (ELS). This is the ELC award.
Work will be performed at Centennial, CO; Vandenberg AFB, CA; and Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, and is expected to be complete by Q2 2018. The USAF’s Launch Systems Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Los Angeles AFB, CA manages the contract (FA8811-13-C-0003, PZ0001).
Dec 3/13: SpaceX GTO. SpaceX successfully launches a civil SES satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. SES-8 is the Falcon 9′s 1st GTO launch, the 1rst commercial flight from Cape Canaveral in over 4 years… and the 2nd of 3 certification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly EELV missions. Sources: SpaceX, “SpaceX Successfully Completes First Mission to Geostationary Transfer Orbit”.
The EELV program was designed to reduce the cost of government space launches through greater contractor competition, and modifiable rocket families whose system requirements emphasized simplicity, commonality, standardization, new applications of existing technology, streamlined manufacturing capabilities, and more efficient launch-site processing. Result: the Delta IV (Boeing) and Atlas V (Lockheed Martin) heavy rockets.
Paradoxically, that very program may have forced the October 2006 merger of Boeing & Lockheed Martin’s rocket divisions. Crosslink Magazine’s Winter 2004 article “EELV: The Next Stage of Space Launch” offers an excellent briefing that covers EELV’s program innovations and results, while a detailed National Taxpayer’s Union letter to Congress takes a much less positive view. This DID Spotlight article looks at the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets, emerging challengers like SpaceX and the new competition framework, and the US government contracts placed since the merger that formed the United Launch Alliance.
The EELV System
Military Satellite Payloads
EELV Budgets & Structure
Competition Again? The New “Open” Launch Framework
Going Forward: Block Buys in a Broader EELV Program
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2006 – 2007
News & Views
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