What I was getting at was that Ares cost $10 or $11B, for one empty test rocket. By the time SLS, built from "leagacy" pieces, launches for the first unmanned time, it will also have consumed about the same amount. I wasn't even thinking about the total projected costs of Ares I and Ares V.
The Constellation expenditures did not merely buy one suborbital test flight. They bought J-2X and a massive new vacuum test stand at Stennis. They bought five segment booster, which will be used for SLS. They bought tooling at Michoud, which will be used for SLS and Orion. And Orion, of course, paid for by Constellation, built at Michoud and KSC in facilities paid for by Constellation, lowered on chutes and protected by LAS tested during Constellation. They bought a new launch platform at KSC, which will be modified for SLS. And so on.
Don't build a new cislunar economy, then you don't need to build enough rockets to launch enough so that the flight rates ever get high enough, so re-usable never becomes economically feasible.
Don't build it, and they won't come. It's worked for forty years. Unless something changes, SLS will continue the legacy.
We live in an economy that moves at breathtaking speed, exploiting every conceivable profit alternative. If there was an economic reason for lunar exploration, it would already have happened.
Regardless, SLS is not going to the Moon.
- Ed Kyle