Encyclopedia Astronautica
Nova A



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Nova A
Credit: © Mark Wade
American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Convair/Ehricke Nova design using standard tank/engine modules of 4.9 m diameter in both first and second stages; 4 F-1 engine/modules in first stage, 4 J-2 engine/modules in second stage.

LEO Payload: 68,000 kg (149,000 lb) to a 556 km orbit. Payload: 27,000 kg (59,000 lb) to a earth escape.

Stage Data - Nova A

  • Stage 1. 1 x Nova A-1. Gross Mass: 1,342,000 kg (2,958,000 lb). Empty Mass: 73,000 kg (160,000 lb). Thrust (vac): 30,616.000 kN (6,882,750 lbf). Isp: 304 sec. Burn time: 121 sec. Isp(sl): 265 sec. Diameter: 9.80 m (32.10 ft). Span: 11.90 m (39.00 ft). Length: 28.00 m (91.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 4. Engine: F-1. Status: Study General Dynamics 1960.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Nova A-2. Gross Mass: 403,000 kg (888,000 lb). Empty Mass: 29,000 kg (63,000 lb). Thrust (vac): 5,334.000 kN (1,199,130 lbf). Isp: 420 sec. Burn time: 284 sec. Isp(sl): 150 sec. Diameter: 9.80 m (32.10 ft). Span: 11.90 m (39.00 ft). Length: 23.80 m (78.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 4. Engine: J-2. Status: Study General Dynamics 1960.
  • Stage 3. 1 x Nova A-3. Gross Mass: 40,000 kg (88,000 lb). Empty Mass: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb). Thrust (vac): 313.000 kN (70,365 lbf). Isp: 427 sec. Burn time: 480 sec. Diameter: 5.80 m (19.00 ft). Span: 5.80 m (19.00 ft). Length: 13.10 m (42.90 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 5. Engine: RL-10. Status: Study General Dynamics 1960.

Status: Study 1960.
Gross mass: 1,866,600 kg (4,115,100 lb).
Payload: 68,000 kg (149,000 lb).
Height: 78.00 m (255.00 ft).
Diameter: 9.80 m (32.10 ft).
Thrust: 26,688.60 kN (5,999,836 lbf).
Apogee: 556 km (345 mi).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • F-1 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 7740.5 kN. Isp=304s. Largest liquid rocket engine ever developed and flown. Severe combustion stability problems were solved during development and it never failed in flight. First flight 1967. More...
  • J-2 Rocketdyne lox/lh2 rocket engine. 1033.1 kN. Study 1961. Isp=421s. Used in Saturn IVB stage in Saturn IB and Saturn V, and Saturn II stage in Saturn V. Gas generator, pump-fed. First flight 1966. More...
  • RL-10 Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 66.7 kN. Isp=410s. Early version as proposed for Nova A, Nova B, Saturn B-1, Saturn C-2, Saturn C-3, Saturn I. First flight 1961. More...

See also
  • Nova Nova was NASA's ultimate launch vehicle, studied intently from 1959 to 1962. Originally conceived to allow a direct manned landing on the moon, in its final iteration it was to put a million-pound payload into low earth orbit to support manned Mars expeditions. It was abandoned in NASA advanced mission planning thereafter in favor of growth versions of the Saturn V. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Convair American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Convair, USA. More...

Associated Stages
  • Nova A-3 Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 40,000/4,000 kg. Thrust 313.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 427 seconds. More...
  • Nova A-1 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 1,342,000/73,000 kg. Thrust 30,616.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 304 seconds. More...
  • Nova A-2 Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 403,000/29,000 kg. Thrust 5,334.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 420 seconds. More...

Nova A Chronology


1961 June 10 - . LV Family: Nova. Launch Vehicle: Nova A.
  • Preparation for NOVA rocket motor tests. - . Nation: USA. Summary: National Bureau of Standards broke ground for new research facility at Gaithersburg, Md., which will include a mega-pound deadweight testing machine to provide measurement standards for multimillion rocket thrust requirements..

1961 October 24 - . LV Family: Nova. Launch Vehicle: Nova A.
  • Nova launch vehicle studies begun. - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Summary: Studies of "unconventional" rockets using liquid fuels in the thrust range from 2 to 24 million pounds announced by NASA; 2 contracts being carried out by Aerojet-General and Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation..

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