NASA has seen the future and it ain’t EELV?
Prices for EELV are going up for all sorts of reasons, and the Air Force and the NRO are attempting to apply a form of industrial base triage by committing to a minimum number of boosters, eight between them, over each of the next five years.
Why? Although NASA says “We don’t budget the way you [DoD] budget,” the between-the-lines reality is perhaps that NASA is hoping SpaceX or another new space provider will swoop in and save the day with greatly diminished launch costs.
As the space industrial base continues to shrink (and cost sharing and economies of scale are diminished given the flyout of the shuttle), unless something really dramatic happens, EELV costs will be likely to continue to rise for a couple of reasons: inertia and regulatory capture.
While command and control industrial base bureaucracies like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing have some advantages, they lack the nimbleness and legacy cost-baggage that benefit new players like SpaceX and others.