Collection Item Summary:
This is a section taken from an engine nozzle developed for NASA's NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) program. It most likely came from the 75,000 pound thrust NERVA-XE flight rocket developmental engine of the type last tested in 1972. The engine was fabricated from high-grade stainless steel and used regenerative cooling to withstand the heat generated from the high-temperature hydrogen gas exhaust products. The section on display here did not undergo testing.
NASA did not design the XE to fly, but rather to serve as a research model for the development of an upper stage nuclear rocket engine derived from the Saturn V launch vehicle for deep space missions. Due to budget cuts, however, NASA canceled the NERVA program in the early 1970s.
Aerojet Nuclear Systems Company transferred this to the Museum in 1972.