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
That is a point I have to concede, only because of how The Air Farce robbed ICBMs from the ABMA. It wasn't just the USSR's military, but their Army. Until recently, artillerymen manned the R-7 pads because a missile is properly artillery.
Here, Our triad was made of an ICBM force with tiny warheads atop tiny solids. Titans Deltas and Atlas rockets only used for comsats and milsats. If you wanted more than this--you had to compete with fighter jocks for funding. Remember, Nikita wanted R-7 and missiles in that it provided him an excuse to not have to have a blue water navy like ours, or to match us bomber for bomber. Stalin before him wanted an ICBM pronto.
Here is where the chief designers cooked the books. They told their superiors not to wait until warheads had been shrunken--as we did. Their idea was to make the rocket bigger. Their military knew this and howled, but Stalin wanted his ICBM now--so the result was a space booster sold as an ICBM--rather than vice versa.
In other words, space advocates actually got what they wanted.
Over here our two greatest technocrats were not Korolev and Glushko, but Curtis LeMay and Adm. Rickover.
Von Braun had more money in absolute sense, but less real power in our military--so we had to have a strong NASA to bully up and be an institution all its own. Koptev on the other hand, had no real power angainst Semenov's Energia Crp--and Golden had to give him a bigger voice. Thus even in Russian now, the civilian space force has to have national support. Tough these days with Medvedev going off on them after Phobos Grunt. Not helping. As for me--we should have kept the Army model that worked well for the Soviets with ABMA and General Medaris--but he had no power to stand against Bernie Schriever.
The EELVs all have a much higher flight rate than the shuttle o SpaceX too will have a "sure thing" fallback if space exploration bites the political dust and will continue in business through its military contracts.
Atlas V has a good flight rate. Delta IV is a worse pad sitter than shuttle and that was after Columbia. Right now, LockMart is working with ATK on Athena, and Antares is facing the ULA gang who want to prop up EELVs despite their rising costs. Here is what I see, EELVs will be kept around, but so will Falcon 9. SLS will be propped up--but so will (hopefully) MCT to replace Block II. Antares will die, and maybe Delta IV. The downselect will be to Falcon, Atlas and SLS. That is how it looks now because SLS is farther along than MCT
I repeat that there are no military payloads being considered for the SLS at the current time..
Now all that is likely to change as such time as it is flying. Remember that space advocates in the Pentagon are on the outside looking in. With NASA picking up the tab on a larger LV, older items such as larger space-based radar and boost phase BMDO projects--depending on who is in the White House of course--may get a second look, especially with Griffin advising Romney and Obama (officially) committed to SLS. Coyote Smith wanted Space Based Solar power, and there are things being looked at that would have no chance from the bottom up with the USAF sitting on things.
Some arguements are being made pro-and-con..big pdf
See Major Finding 8a
Now remember there is "no current market" for MCT either. Musk is hoping to start one. There are no payloads because there is no rocket. There is no rocket because there are no payloads. Chicken, meet egg. SLS and MCT are in R-7's shoes. The Russians could have waited until smaller solids and smaller warheads came along (Topol) but space advocates in being higher up the food chain made the rocket first, then the payloads followed.
Personally, I want large space based military assets for boost phase ICBM intercept. Right now, we have to have ships at sea with solids in a tail chase against liquid fueled ballistic missiles that can outpace them unless they are very close where the solids hard acceleration have a chance of catching them. other than that, ground based missile defense rely on drones shooting up at a bunch of targets already coming down.
Space Based assets reverse that. Now such advocacy won't be easy in sequestration--but this allows big cuts to deadwood to be made, with outsiders perhaps using the chaos to their advantage. Khrushchev saw that space-arms was actually the cheaper way to go. I could argue that space based assets are cheaper than keeping this Cold War WWII era logistical nightmare Forget SPSS for power generation ofor civilian use--If I can have a handful of demonstrators keeping an electric drone cap up--then I can argue against carrier groups and endless airplane acquisitions. In other words, the logistics of bodies, bases, beans and bullets cost more than Falcon/SLS-launched rods-from-god.
This is why space advocates rank below the janitor in the Pentagon--they could make a lot of things obsolete.