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NERVA Engine Gallery


The sign which accompanied the NERVA engine. It reads


This innovative Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Applications (NERVA) was an experimental nuclear engine designed for long-duration manned space flight, including a proposed manned mission to Mars. There was no combustion of propellants inside this engine. Rather, liquid hydrogen was superheated as it passed through a nuclear reactor, then expelled through the nozzle. This design achieved a much higher specific impulse than even the Space Shuttle Main Engine. In addition, the thrust, although less than that of an SSME, could be sustained long-term for deep space exploration. Despite these technological successes, development plans for NERVA were eventually canceled out of concern over the use of nuclear materials for manned space flight.

Aerojet-General Corporation (prime contractor)
Westinghouse Corporation (reactor)

Developed for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and NASA.

Sign accompanying NERVA Engine at U.S. Space and Rocket Center
Time picture taken Fri Jun 20 13:55:56 2003
Location picture taken Rocket Park
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Huntsville, AL
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