edkyle99":nqithb4r said:Neither EELV has to date demonstrated a greater launch rate than Shuttle. Last year Atlas 5 managed to match Shuttle's five launches, but Shuttle has matched or out-launched Atlas 5 or Delta 4 five times in eight years since the EELVs began flying - and that includes the post-Columbia stand down. Since 2002, Shuttle has flown 23 times (even though it flew zero times in 2004 and only once in 2003 and 2005). Atlas 5 has flown 20 times. Delta 4 has flown only 11 times.DarkenedOne":nqithb4r said::shock: Wow. Your the first person I have ever heard say that commercializing unmanned space flight was a mistake.
The EELVs that exist to day are significantly cheaper than the space shuttle, less risky than they space shuttle, arguably more reliable than the space shuttle, and have a greater launch rate than the space shuttle.
Alright I will give you that. The EELV were designed for and are capable of a much higher launch rate, but due to lower than expected demand, which is partly the result of the recession, they are not anywhere near their capacity.
I surely hope that the EELVs cost less than Shuttle! The EELVs, on average, haul much less payload mass than Shuttle, and they obviously don't carry crew. Shuttle is not just a launch vehicle, but also a spacecraft payload. Put an astronaut-carrying spacecraft on top of an EELV Heavy and the entire bit will rival a Shuttle mission in cost.
My bad. Let me clarify.
When I said cost less I meant on a per kg basis. The space shuttle has a far high cost per unit of mass than practically any of the commercial launchers. According to NASA the average shuttle mission cost $450 million not including development and the shuttle has a max LEO payload capacity of 24,400 kg. When you include development the Delta IV cost about $254 million per launch and lifts closer to 26000kg. When you include development and everything else by dividing the entire cost of the Shuttle program over the launches you get $1.3 billion per launch.
However you also indicated another two reason why the EELV are superior for unmanned spacecraft. The first being that the EELV are reconfigurable for the mission at hand. The Atlas V is reconfigurable to launch anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000kg. The second being that the Shuttle is manned, which put a great deal more at risk when putting a satellite into space.
Lastly I highly doubt a manned EELV will rival the Shuttle in expense for several reasons I will not go into right now. I will point out that the closest competitor to a manned EELV is Russians Soyuz vehicles which are arguably more reliable and are much cheaper than the Shuttle is.
OK so they use a Russian developed engine as the first stage of one of the EELV.
edkyle99":nqithb4r said:The EELVs cost far more than expected. Some reports have Delta 4 Heavy at more than $500 million per flight compared to an original $150 million goal. The costs are in part forcing the closing of the Delta 2 program, which just happens to be the most reliable launch system in the U.S.. But like Shuttle, it too will soon be gone. (Soon to be gone Shuttle and Delta 2 together accounted for 13 of last year's 24 U.S. launch attempts.)
The EELV cost far more than expected because of the less than anticipated demand. Still cheaper then the shuttle though. As far as the Delta II is concerned the Delta II is simply being replaced. They designed the EELV to replace the Delta II. While Delta II has a great record the EELV have a superior record as of this far.
edkyle99":nqithb4r said:In the past two years, EELV has launched a grand total of just two commercial satellites. The EELV's aren't really even in the commercial game. That doesn't look like great success to me.
I'm not suggesting putting commercial launch back into NASA's hands, but the current system isn't helping the U.S. keep up with the rest of the world in space launch.
- Ed Kyle
Yes the commercial side for the last two years has been low largely due to the recession. When you look at the entire history of the commercial space launches on the Atlas V, which is the only EELV on the commercial market, you will find that it accounts for a significant percentage of the launches.
Secondly your right about the US being behind in commercial unmanned launch market. Does that mean that it was a mistake to switch unmanned payloads away from the shuttle? No. The switch can be justified on the cost savings and reliability alone to NASA as well as the military. If the shuttle were our only means of getting to space there would be no commercial unmanned launch market at all. Kind of sounds like where we are in commercial human space flight. There has been 8 people who have been launched into space commercially, and I understand it they have all been done by the US based company, Space Adventures. Unfortunately they have to use Russian launchers because there is no commercial human launchers in the US.