Encyclopedia Astronautica

Michelle B
American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of TGV Rockets, Bethesda, Maryland. As of 2005, flight testing of the Michelle-B was expected to begin no earlier than 2007.

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.

Gross mass: 27,800 kg (61,200 lb).
Payload: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).
Height: 11.40 m (37.40 ft).
Diameter: 2.40 m (7.80 ft).
Thrust: 194.10 kN (43,635 lbf).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • America's Space Prize Following the success of the Ansari X-Prize in motivating flight of the first commercial suborbital manned spacecraft, Robert Bigelow announced the 'America's Space Prize' - $ 50 million - to the first team to fly an orbital manned spacecraft that completes two missions safely and successfully by January 10, 2010. More...
  • X-Prize The X-Prize competition was an attempt to promote commercial civilian spaceflight in a manner similar to the prizes handed out in the early days of aviation. Ten million dollars was to go to the first team to fly a vehicle capable of launching three people into space (defined as an altitude of 100 km in a suborbital trajectory), twice in a two-week period. The vehicle had to be 90% reusable by dry mass. For purposes of the two flights, the competition accepted flight by one person and ballast equivalent to two others at 90 kg per passenger. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Kerosene Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. In January 1953 Rocketdyne commenced the REAP program to develop a number of improvements to the engines being developed for the Navaho and Atlas missiles. Among these was development of a special grade of kerosene suitable for rocket engines. Prior to that any number of rocket propellants derived from petroleum had been used. Goddard had begun with gasoline, and there were experimental engines powered by kerosene, diesel oil, paint thinner, or jet fuel kerosene JP-4 or JP-5. The wide variance in physical properties among fuels of the same class led to the identification of narrow-range petroleum fractions, embodied in 1954 in the standard US kerosene rocket fuel RP-1, covered by Military Specification MIL-R-25576. In Russia, similar specifications were developed for kerosene under the specifications T-1 and RG-1. The Russians also developed a compound of unknown formulation in the 1980's known as 'Sintin', or synthetic kerosene. More...

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