The Rockets’ Red Ink: from EELV to a Competitive Space Launch Future
SAR report shows a reduction – to $67 billion. More savings are possible.
April 17/14: SAR. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/13 Selected Acquisitions Report [PDF]. The EELV is mentioned, due to significant cost changes:
“Program costs decreased $3,062.7 million (-4.3%) from $70,685.1 million to $67,622.4 million, due primarily to savings realized in the negotiation and award of the new 2013-2017 Phase 1 contract (-$3,770.7 million), revised cost assumptions based on the negotiated contract (-$1,511.5 million), and net decreases from a change in launch vehicle configuration requirements (-$411.3 million). These decreases were partially offset by a quantity increase of 11 launch services from 151 to 162 (+$2,505.0 million).
With that said, it’s worth asking just how much can be saved by opening the process fully to competition (q.v. March 5/14). SpaceX hasn’t been formally certified yet, and it will be interesting to see what changes once that happens.
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
Firms & Platforms
News & Views
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