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The Evolving Launch Vehicle Market Supply and the Effect on Future NASA Missions

Management & Lessons Learned Track

Downloadable Files:

M&LL-14 Bitten Paper Evolving Launch Vehicle


The upcoming retirement of the Delta II family of launch vehicles will leave a performance gap between small expendable launch vehicles, such as the Pegasus and Taurus class, and larger vehicles, such as the Delta IV and Atlas V families. This performance gap may lead to a variety of progressions including large satellites that utilize the full capability of the larger launch vehicles, medium size satellites that would require dual manifesting on the larger vehicles or smaller satellites missions that would require a large number of smaller launch vehicles. This paper offers some comparative costs of co-manifesting single- instrument missions on a Delta IV/Atlas V, versus placing several instruments on a larger bus and using a Delta IV/Atlas V, as well as considering smaller, single instrument missions launched on a Taurus. This paper presents the results of a parametric study investigating the cost-effectiveness of different alternatives and their effect on future NASA missions that fall into the Small Explorer (SMEX), Medium Explorer (MIDEX), Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP), Discovery, Mars Scout and New Frontiers category of mission classes.


Robert Bitten
Bob Bitten works at The Aerospace Corporation and has conducted independent cost estimates for NASA proposal evaluations and independent assessments for a variety of different NASA missions and organizations. Bob recently won The Aerospace Corporation’s highest honor, The President’s Award, for his effort in assessing the cost effectiveness of different alternatives in the Hubble Space Telescope Remote Servicing Module (HST RSM) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA).

Debra Emmons
Debra Emmons also works at The Aerospace Corporation where she has developed a unique, quantitative schedule analysis tool using historical data. She has used this tool on several NASA proposal evaluations and independent assessments. Ms. Emmons also won The Aerospace Corporation’s President’s Award, for utilizing her unique methodology to conduct schedule analysis that was critical to the conclusions drawn in the HST RSM AoA.

Claude Freaner
Claude Freaner has worked in the cost estimating field in industry and at NASA Headquarters for the last 28 years. As part of his duties, Claude is responsible for independent cost assessment of proposed and ongoing missions within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Claude recently received the 2006 NASA

Cost Estimating Leadership Award which is given “to provide recognition to an individual who has brought leadership and inspiration to the space cost community in activities such as championing a cause, leading and mentoring others in the space cost community, acting as a strong cost advocate, and garnering the respect of his cost peers.”