EELV Prices Continue to Escalate

The Air force announced monday that it was awarding a firm fixed price contract to ULA for an Atlas V 551 for 2014 at 398 million. The launch award is for the fourth MOUS satellite, and is for the heaviest version of the Atlas V, which features 5 solid strap on boosters built buy Aerojet and the 5 meter payload fairing with a single RL-10 upepr stage engine.  At $398 million, the price serves as further evidence that the EELV program is well into unsustainable territory, with prices so far out of line with other launch vehicles that it almost defies a rationale explanation. The announcement did not make clear if the price includes the Launch Capability Contract costs, which are generally quoted separately. If this price is exclusive of the Launch Capability Contraft, then the actual total costs are in the range of $500 million. Ariane V is generally cited around $220 million, and the Russian Proton considerably less than that. SpaceX, yet to launch the Falcon Heavy, is currently quoting $125 million. It can’t launch soon enough.

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