Nerva: Engine

Nerva Engine

  1. From LH2 tank
  2. Pump
  3. Turbine
  4. Turbopump exhaust
  5. Nozzle collant pipe (carries entire hydrogen flow)
  6. Exhaust nozzle
  7. 3% of reactor efflux
  8. Radiation shield
  9. Turbine power control valve

The thermodynamic nuclear rocket scores over the conventional bi-propellant engine because the LH2 can be heated (without being oxidised) to a much higher temperature, with consequent increase in thrust.