Publication Date

Fall 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace Engineering


Periklis Papadopoulos

Subject Areas

Aerospace engineering; Nuclear engineering; Engineering


This thesis describes the coupling of a nuclear thermal rocket engine with a toroidal aerospike nozzle. The coupling of the two systems consists of two phases. The first of these phases begin with top-level systems and subsystems analysis and design of the new engine. The second phase is the analysis and characterization of the major engine systems through the use of computational fluid dynamics analysis. With the coupling of the nuclear thermal rocket engine with the aerospike nozzle, the new system will be known as the Nuclear Thermal Propulsion System. Due to the uniqueness of coupling a nuclear thermal rocket engine with a toroidal aerospike nozzle, the traditional nuclear thermal rocket engine design of a cylindrical nuclear reactor had to be abandoned. This change stems from the need for cooling of the aerospike nozzle and the inherent difficulty that the nozzle support structure would cause for such a system. The redesigned nuclear reactor is known as the annulus reactor system because the nuclear core is fashioned into a hoop shape to allow for the integration with an aerospike nozzle specially configured for use with the hoop core. This innovative design represents a significant improvement over conventional chemical rockets in both the areas of providing energy for thrust generation as well as the expansion and expulsion of the exhausting propellant.