Status: Study 2004. Payload: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). Thrust: 194.10 kN (43,635 lbf). Gross mass: 27,800 kg (61,200 lb). Height: 11.40 m (37.40 ft). Diameter: 2.40 m (7.80 ft).
Michelle-B (Modular Incremental Compact High Energy Launch Example) was designed by Kent Ewing of TGV Rockets, Bethesda, Maryland. The design called for a vertical takeoff and rocket-powered vertical landing. The vehicle would liftoff under power of six pressure-fed lox/kerosene engines, firing for 80 seconds. During the ascent, the pilot would vary the engine power level to manage dynamic pressure loads. After engine cut-off the vehicle would make a ballistic arc to a maximum altitude of 104 km. A flexible aero-shield was deployed for re-entry to reduce speed and moderate re-entry temperatures. At 3 km altitude, the shield would retract and landing power applied by the pilot. The spacecraft would hover to a zero-velocity touchdown.
The modular design featured redundant independent propulsion modules which each contained propellant tanks, a pressurization system and a single engine. The crew compartment, flight deck and payload bay were isolated from the propulsion modules. The deployable aerodynamic decelerator was of flexible mesh. Stowable landing gear would be deployed for touchdown. The spacecraft was to have a full avionics suite, with INS, Radar, GPS, and a self contained precision approach system. There was no need for external tracking, range safety or ground based telemetry systems. The vehicle had minimal ground support requirements, consistent with aircraft operations. All that was needed was a ground power cart, fuel and oxidizer supply tankers, and payload support systems.
The Michelle-B would reliably and inexpensively loft 1000 kg of payload to an altitude of 100 km. The flight profile provided 200 seconds of high quality micro-gravity environment. Maximum acceleration would not exceed 4.5 g's. The vehicle would return for a soft landing at its take-off location.