In all fairness, it is being developed as an MMO to replace a shut-down MMO.
You do realize that the budget is a meaningless piece of paper holding no authority, yes? Spending resolutions are the real thing and the Senate has passed those. Why waste time on hollow gestures with no authority?
NASA does plenty of suborbital work for research purposes. You can read about it here:
NASA does many such contracts on a regular basis. This is for suborbital research, commonly done on vehicles such as the Black Brant and Terrior, a class of vehicles called Sounding Rockets. Several small companies have stepped forward with new suborbital programs which cost far less than these older systems, such as Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo, Blue Origin's New Shepherd and the XCOR Lynx, and the old contracts expire next year, so this is the right time to gather replacements.
The last contract setup cost us $4 million, but was in 1998, so with inflation in place, $10 million sounds about right.
Ariane is not a suborbital vehicle, so not quite understanding why it would be relevant.
The article in Forbes is written by a fellow for the Heartland Institute, one of the numerous front organizations for the coal and oil industries alongside other such groups as "CO2 is Green". The study is not peer reviewed, it has been published *for* peer review, there is a dramatic difference between the two. Beyond that, you have the issue that the study argues 180 degrees opposite to the articles claims. In short, the article is complete bunk, written by a fraud with an attempt to reinforce the positions of those who wish to kill scientific progress and research.
He's not the only person, or company, with heavy lift designs, and many of those involved have a longer track record. There are, in fact, 13 companies now submitting heavy lift designs now. Boeing's proposal is already relatively well known, as is SpaceX. But I am curious what Orbital is proposing. They are, after all, the operators of more models of launch vehicles than any other company out there (having 6 operational rockets at the moment) and the engines on their upcoming Taurus II happen to have come from a previous Heavy Lift Vehicle. (literally, when it was cancelled, they yanked the engines off of the 4 units which hadn't been launched and mothballed them. Refurbished, the engines are now the powerplant behind the Taurus II launch vehicle)
No, they're not, and no, they can't.
You instead may be referring to Hybrid rockets, solid fuel, liquid oxidizer. Those can, yes, be turned on and off, and are quite efficient.
Aerojet, the other solid rocket engine company, warned of this in the 1960's. They built large single-piece solids, including the most powerful rocket engine ever built, the mighty AJ-260-2. The AJ-260-2 was part of the evolved Saturn program. Stage 1 of the Saturn I would be replaced by this one, huge, solid rocket motor. This would reduce the cost to operate the unit dramatically it was felt. After Challenger, they again offered the skills to manufacture the single-piece solid, but were rejected.
Incidentally, the AJ-260-2 is still sitting in Florida, all but forgotten in an abandoned warehouse.
Unfortunately, those solids are *not* the same as the shuttles. New formula, new machine tooling, new design. They re-use the casings only. The rest of it, an all new SRB design. Oh, and they got rid of the old tools, so they can no longer manufacture them. Handy trick wouldn't you say?
You just pitched the case for Ares I. Of course, that ended with a launcher which was incapable of lifting the Orion Capsule, or anything else.
The name Ares V pre-dates Constellation, actually. It was attached to the ESAS study, which produced the Ares V, and of which this rocket is a carry-over from. Ares I was added later on in the program. This may well be called Ares, who knows. This is not a new design, it is something NASA's kicked around, in one guise or another, since the 1970's.
The RS-68 is not capable of being used in manned flight. It lacks the safety features to tell the flight control computer "Oh shit, we're about to blow up!" If the computer doesn't know soon enough, one accident and your astronauts are deep fried spacemen.
In addition, NASA had a program for throwaway SSME's in the late 1980's/early 1990's. The technology for doing that is still there. They would ressurect this plan, removing the reusability from the SSME entirely. Makes them almost as cheap as the RS-68, and are far more capable. Less thrust, more isp. And once out of the atmosphere, isp is king.
Not true, there are two other systems which can match, or surpass, Ares V:
Energia Vulkan, a 200 metric tonne version of their Energia rocket.
Atlas V Phase III, which is fundimentally a US version of the Energia.
The Russians had a better solution than the SRB's, LRB's. I refer, of course, to the Energia Vulkan. It is an Energia rocket, the one they used for their shuttle, the Buran, but with 8 Zenit boosters, rather than just 4. It could deliver almost 200 metric tonnes to orbit.
If you use LRB's, the weight savings and flexibility would enable you to make a scalable solution. Energia, for instance, could scale from 20 metric tonnes to the gigantic 200 metric tonnes, all using the same parts. Even the LRB's are used as standalone launchers by Sea Launch. Our Atlas V and Taurus II rockets both use elements borrowed from the Energia system.
Here are pictures and information about the Energia configurations: