The ATK/Astrium Liberty promotional video

Trent also points me to this ATK promotional video for the Liberty:

I see that they are still claiming, as they did in justifying the Constellation architecture, that the EELVs have black zones during their ascents in which aborts would be fatal. ULA has long said (see “human rating” papers here) that the trajectories of their launchers can be adjusted in a straight-forward manner to allow for safe aborts throughout.

With respect to costs, note that the two massive components must be assembled vertically in the VAB and moved from there via a giant mobile vehicle transporter to the launch area.

SpaceX, on the other hand, assembles its Falcon 9/Dragon system horizontally in a relatively modest hangar and rolls it out via a simple rail system to the nearby pad to be erected for launch. They eventually expect to reach a level of efficiency where they can move it from the hangar and launch within an hour.

It’s difficult to see how the Liberty’s infrastructure overhead costs alone would not dwarf the costs of the much simpler Falcon 9. I expect an Atlas V commercial crew launch process will be more like the Falcon 9 than the Liberty as well. (Yes, there will also be the need for some sort of crew access/emergency escape system on the pad.)


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