Good News and Bad on Space Launch Fleet

A new Congressionally chartered report on the current and future status of national security space launch finds that the two new Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle families—Delta IV and Atlas V—will cover known NSS launch requirements through 2020. The bad news: The federal government will have to pay more for this capability because of a dearth of commercial payloads for these boosters. The EELV rockets lose out to foreign rockets “which all enjoy substantial subsidies and often benefit from skilled labor rates far below those of the United States,” notes the report. The eight-member panel included retired Air Force officers Lt. Gen. Forrest McCartney, Maj. Gen. Jimmey Morrell (now deceased), and Brig. Gen. Rick Larned, as well as other space knowledgeable military, civil, and industry individuals.