Defense Space Activities: Continuation of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program's Progress to Date Subject to Some Uncertainty [open pdf - 886KB]
The U.S. space policy states that access to and use of space is critical to preserving peace and protecting U.S. national security and also benefits the country's civil and commercial interests. Air Force guidance explains further that access to space requires the ability to launch critical space assets, when needed, by a mix of space launch systems from standard launch pads at major support facilities. This is to ensure that a launch failure or other catastrophic event does not prevent mission success. These critical space assets, or satellites, are used for a wide range of government activities such as communications, navigation, and ballistic missile warning. The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, consisting of both Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles, was established as the strategic launch system to meet the nation's critical space mission needs and correspond with U.S. policy that requires U.S. government satellites to be launched on U.S. manufactured launch vehicles. The program was implemented in 1995 to support and sustain assured access to space with more affordable launch vehicles, provided by two contract launch providers that replaced the past, or "heritage," systems such as the Delta II, Atlas II, Titan II, and Titan IV. GAO was to determine the extent to which the implementation of the Department of Defense's (DOD) EELV program has achieved assured access to space and projected program cost savings.
Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/