Fact Sheet - Air Force Space Command - Direcorate of Public Affairs 150 Vandenberg St, 1105 Peterson AFB, CO 80914-4500 Phone (719)554-3731

Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle


The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle is the Air Force space lift modernization program. EELV will reduce the cost of launching by at least 25 percent over current Delta, Atlas, and Titan launch systems. This acquisition saves $6 billion in launch costs between the years 2002 and 2020. In addition, EELV improves space launch and operability and standardization.

The mission statement for the EELV program is: “Partner with industry to develop a  national launch capability that satisfies both government and commercial payload requirements and reduces the cost of space launch by at least 25 percent.”


The initial phase of the EELV program, Low Cost Concept Validation (LCCV), was successfully completed in November 1996. LCCV emphasized competition in preliminary designs and risk reduction demonstrations. Four $30 million contracts were awarded during this phase to Alliant Techsystems, the Boeing Company, and Lockheed Martin Corporation.

During the second phase, Pre-Engineering and Manufacturing Development, two $60 million, 17-month contracts were awarded to the Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation to continue refining their system concepts and complete a detailed system design.

The EELV program is currently in the development module of its program. In October 1998, the EELV program awarded Boeing and Lockheed Martin two contracts each. Through the Development Agreement, worth $500 million per contractor, the Air Force is funding a portion of the development of the Delta IV (Boeing) and Atlas V (Lockheed Martin) vehicles. The Initial Launch Services (ILS) contracts are for a total of 28 launches from FY 2002 to FY 2006. Boeing was awarded 19 launches for $1.38 billion, and Lockheed Martin was awarded 9 launches for $650 million.

The first launch of the EELV Medium Lift Vehicle is scheduled to occur in fiscal year 2001, and the first government payloads on Medium and Heavy Lift Vehicles are scheduled for fiscal years 2002 and 2003.

The two primary objectives are to: 1) increase the U.S. space launch industry’s competitiveness in the international commercial launch services market and 2) implement acquisition reform initiatives resulting in reduced government resources necessary to manage system development, reduced development cycle time, and deployment of commercial launch services.


The two primary launch contractors, Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company, provide the following information on their respective EELV variants:

Atlas V results from the culmination of Lockheed Martin's desire to employ the best practices from both the Atlas and Titan programs into an evolved and highly competitive commercial and government launch system for the 21st Century. Atlas V builds on the design innovations that will be demonstrated on Atlas III and incorporates a structurally stable booster propellant tank, enhanced payload fairing options, and optional strap-on solid rocket boosters. Atlas V will achieve ILC in early 2002.

The Delta IV family blends new and mature technology to launch virtually any size medium or heavy payload into space. It is composed of five vehicles based on a common booster core (CBC) first stage. Delta IV second stages are derived from the Delta III second stage, using the same RL10B-2 engine, but with two sizes of expanded fuel and oxidizer tanks, depending on the model.  In designing the five Delta IV configurations, Boeing conducted extensive discussions with government and commercial customers concerning their present and future launch requirements. Proven technical features and processes were carried over from earlier Delta vehicles to Delta IV. New technologies and processes were incorporated where they added capability or reduced cost.

(Current as of March 2001)

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