Re: Space Shuttle
AC, be aware they stopped painting the external tank after the first Columbia test flight, partly to save weight, partly because the crew noticed lots of paint flakes coming off the tank during launch.
The Shuttle sold itself as "cheaper than expendable boosters". Once the idea of a winged carrier vehicle to bring the orbiter half way to orbit was binned, there's no way it could have been both safe and cheaper. Blaming beancounters may be easy, but there was plenty of shading the truth from the engineers and scientists too :-(