They say they will have more in one to three years. This looks to compete with Block II
Now 1,700 launches, newtype? R-7 was able to do that because it was funded by a nation.
Correction: the R-7 was funded by a military
. Which means that unlike the Saturn-V and the shuttle, it had a continuing justification to exist irrespective of the nation's political will. Military spending is ALWAYS politically acceptable; peaceful space exploration, not so much.
Remind me again: what are the potential military
applications being considered for the SLS?
I hope Space X is around in 50 years. Remember too--R-7 was considered too large at first too
Too large for a practical ICBM, yes. But Korolev didn't built it to be an ICBM, despite the fact that that's what the Soviet military had ordered him to develop. He managed to piggyback his exploration program onto the back of what was essentially a nuclear weapons delivery system, and he was damn lucky to get away with it.
Consider the question I asked you above. The EELVs all have a much higher flight rate than the shuttle or the SLS can ever aspire to. They get most of their business by handling government contracts, including spy satellites and mysterious automated spaceplanes. Even if we never ever put another American into space, ULA will still be able to stay in business using those defense contracts.
SpaceX has wisely made a move to make the Falcon 9 available for military payloads as well, especially with their little trick of implying (falsely, I sometimes think) that the Falcon Heavy would be launching primarily out of Vandenburg. Right now they're depending on their service contract to the space station, but if they succeed with the Falcon Heavy gambit, SpaceX too will have a "sure thing" fallback if space exploration bites the political dust and will continue in business through its military contracts.
I repeat that there are no military payloads being considered for the SLS at the current time
. The Air Force and the NRO are happy with the Delta-IV Heavy and the Atlas-V, and they're likely to be even happier with the Falcon Heavy when it becomes operational. SLS is too high profile, too expensive, and when it goes online, too restrictive in its schedule in addition to being untried and untested. That means that SLS is already on shaky political ground, and depends entirely on how fashionable space exploration is in the minds of a collection of fickle voters; its chances of being cancelled would probably double if Star Trek Into Darkness starts getting bad reviews.