Cryogenic fuel storage is vastly easier than building a giant rocket to meet NASA specs.
We've built two HLLVs Saturn and shuttle, which was sustained over 130 or so flights. No one has built a depot in space at all yet.
Kraft is just mad the orbiter isn't flying anymore. Kranz is more bullish as is Cernan at last report. Money woes are the fault of folks not shelling out enough for space. Any
new vehicle will cost up front. Let's say that not only could MCT be done for SLS budget, but that Musk could design upper stages and landers for the initial SLS costs. I don't buy that he can do that--but for the sake of arguement.
Take Squires testimony
"SLS and Orion will be highly capable vehicles, and their development is progressing well."
For a sample return, SLS is a boon. He just wants more money for space in general.
The robotics folks would still like to rob its budget, and I'm sure they would float some stories against it. And it was ULA's initial kill Ares V propaganda that got folks all to hating SLS to begin with--as if they would be friends to Musk. One of the ways to get one's project funded is to kill the other guys, after all. And Kraft is flat wrong. A nation that can fund a hundred plus flights of shuttle stack with an orbiter can just as easily float as many without.
SLS is what is on the table now. Kraft also wanted to fly the shuttle more frequently, which safety-first types took issue with Kranz seems more supportive, as does Neil D. Tyson, and carolyn Porco. Garver and others may be trying to kill SLS from within (I was never a fan of hers for all kinds of reasons) So if folks who don't care about human spaceflight try to sack something, and announce delays, they expect you to buy into it.
Left up to the SLS bashers, the 39 series pads may have an ABANDON IN PLACE placard on it. A lot of folks want to kill NASA in general and just let private industry do what it wants. But I have always been an arsenal method adherant, and will remain so.
Sure, logistically an HLV makes missions easier.
And that drives down the cost of payloads. Golden Spike, which uses existing launchers, will also run into the billions, and will likely have cost overruns as well. But it doesn't give us the added capability SLS allows. Webb alone will cost many SLS cores. Know why it is so costly--because the smaller launcher's payload shroud forces complexity into the design.
Smaller launchers cost you both money and
logistical headaches. Its well woth the money to have a big LV and a sipler monolithic mirror, like ATLAST
Here are some interesting links:
This guy calls Saturn V puny
More doable than Aldebaran