What is a good estimate for SLS' annual fixed cost and variable per flight cost? What references are used for these costs?

I've seen uncited figures of $1B+/launch variable cost.

Wikipedia quotes a NASA deputy project manager as saying that $500M/launch is a target. This seems low as the Delta IV Heavy used in the Orion test launch was in that range.

Other estimates cited on Wikipedia range up to $1.9B/launch.

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    $\begingroup$ An unknown is flight rate and how many SLS rockets would be made. The development costs would be amortized over the number of rockets made. For example if development costs were \$30 billion and there were a total of 10 launches, each rockets would bear \$3 billion in development costs. $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Jan 24 '15 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ Right. That's why I asked for fixed and variable cost components. Cheers. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Jan 24 '15 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ Here is John Strickland's estimate: thespacereview.com/article/2330/1 although I've heard SLS apologists saying he's overly pessimistic on the variable cost components. $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Jan 24 '15 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ Didn't that Delta IV Heavy + Orion cost include the cost of the Orion itself, not just the launch? $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Jan 24 '15 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ Nope. \$500m for just the ride. The Air Force recently paid \$1.74B for 4 Delta IV Heavy launches too. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Jan 24 '15 at 14:01

Wikipedia states \$500 million per launch, with this citation. The development budget is $18 billion (\$10 billion for the actual SLS rocket), and that is a more reliable number as it is a budget. However, a development budget is always a lower limit. This site for instance, provides an total development cost estimate of \$35 billion.

The space review says \$1 billion per launch, \$1.5 billion if development costs are included. Their citation is this study

  • $\begingroup$ Hi @Hohmannfan, any update on the total development cost? I know that US gov released further $5 billion last March to NASA for SLS and Orion $\endgroup$ May 24 '18 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ It has eaten a few extra billions, but there are no big changes. As there are many years left before we have flight ready hardware the end result is still not easy to predict. $\endgroup$ May 24 '18 at 16:05

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