Robert Heinlein once observed that “Once you get to earth orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere in the solar system.” How unfortunate then, that in recent years, many within the space establishment appear to have completely given up on lowering the cost of reaching orbit. From the ever increasing costs of the heavily subsidized EELV program to the astronomical estimates for the Space Launch System, (each claiming they are “cost effective,” by the way) current NASA space transportation systems, with one critical exception, are all headed in the wrong direction.
The exception of course, is the COTS program, which has helped to sponsor the development of two new launch vehicles, the Orbital Sciences Antares, and the SpaceX Falcon. The former offers a modest return to the historical pricing level of early launch vehicles. The latter however, is utterly revolutionary.