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New Heavy Launchers, a Cost Estimating Challenge

Earned Value Management & Hardware Track

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EVM&HW-2 VanPelt Paper Heavy Launchers


Estimating development and recurring cost for a new heavy launcher pose some challenges. It has been a long time since Saturn V was last flown, and cost estimate models based its development and launch cost may not accurately predict the effects of the current state of technology or development and production methods.
More recently developed and produced launchers such as Ariane V are good references for the current state of the art, but are significantly smaller than a Saturn-V class launcher. Using cost models based on their data to estimate heavy launcher cost thus requires extrapolation beyond the reference data limits.
This paper compares several launcher cost models and methods, and discusses the issues this reveals.


Michael van Pelt
Michel van Pelt (born 1972) has been working as a cost and system engineer at the ESTEC centre of the European Space Agency since 1999. He is involved in a variety of space projects, for which he prepares cost estimates and analyses of financial proposals. Furthermore, he regularly works in ESTEC’s Concurrent Design Facility as cost engineer, system engineer or team leader.
He is also author of the books “Space Tourism; Adventures in Earth Orbit and Beyond” and “Space Invaders; How Robotic Spacecraft Explore the Solar System