As for Liberty we will have to wait and see. Musk has drawn first blood and has impressed Griffin--who supports Stratolaunch--which has to be huge to have a more Falcon 5 type rocket to carry a payload just shy of R-7 Soyuz launcher--so size does matter. Remember, the DoD needs a vibrant solid fuel industry to make air-to-air missiles, surface-to-air, etc. So Solid fuel solutions are likely to be propped up.
SLS is hardly Spruce Goose--which actually would have been a good Ekranoplan had they made if differently for wing-in-ground-effect.
SLS will deliver a Delta IV upper stage as
a payload to place articles beyond Earth orbit--and seeing that EELVs have Musk for competition, they are gradualy coming to accept heavy-lift--especially now that my home state of Alabama (home of Delta IV) has stabbed Boeing in the heart with a new Airbus plant that is coming to Mobile to make the A320neo http://blog.al.com/live/2012/06/airb...ht_featur.html
So right now, SLS is going to look pretty good to Boeing--so they have adopted it as their own it seems www.beyondearth.com
There is a move to downselect to two providers to LEO, allowing NASA to focus on BEO missions with SLS and Musk taking up the slack--although he may face competition from Antares (Taurus II)
Remember, it was The Aerospace Corporation that "participated in the planning and development of system requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle
(EELV) program" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Aerospace_Corporation
Now early on, the EELV fans took shots at Ares/Constellation, and floated all this depot nonsense specifically to launch scores of EELV since the 1990's DOT.COM bubble burst and the teledesic internet in the sky deal fell through: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teledesic
This all left the DoD saddled with two rockets--an albatross they tried to force on Griffin's neck, and a lot of people believed their hype about how NASA shouldn't be in the rocket building business, and should rely on private space manufacturers--meaning EELV.
And then Musk came along--a true private space company. Then--all of a sudden, the Aerospace Corp--retired Blue Suiters mind you, changed their minds and said that maybe the time isn't right for true private space:
There was talk about preserving infrastructure. In a recent column from Aviation Week and Space Technology, Musk responded with the question "Whose infrastructure are we preserving? what with Russian RD-180s, AN-124s etc.
Now isn't that interesting? Anytime someone talks to you about costs of this or that--think about where they are coming from. When Musk launched his first rockets, the EELVs were also just getting started. Musk was forced off the coast under the aegis of "range safety"--as if an EELV couldn't have went off course and hit his rocket instead. My guess is that this was done to eat his paypal fortune alive in immense logistics costs--and to price him out of the market--so he would quit like Beal did.
But Musk didn't. Now, seeing that the same folks who put heavy-lift down are the same folks who went after Musk--can you really believe the figures they spouted, especially now after the Druyen tanker scandal, the EELV data theft all forgotten now that Boeing and Lockmart are one big happy fleet under ULA, etc?
The heavy lift advocates are not selling things, they are engineers too long ignored by folks who want the status quo. Musk wasn't the first. Take Bob Truax who wanted low cost big dumb boosters like Sea Dragon, that NASA called technically uninteresting
Heavy-lift supporters sound engineering arguements have for too long been ignored by 'fastter better cheaper' folks who really want smaller and expensive--or RLV fanatics who want cool spaceplanes. HLLVs are not sexy or cool--and that is why I support them.
Musk apparently does as well
“Falcon Heavy should not be confused with the super heavy lift rocket program being debated by the U.S. Congress,” SpaceX officially cited when revealing their Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. “That vehicle is authorized to carry between 70-130 metric tons to orbit. SpaceX agrees with the need to develop a vehicle of that class as the best way to conduct a large number of human missions to Mars.”
So SLS hits ULA high, and Space X hits them low. No wonder the EELV folks squawk so much.