An insert which allows a supersonic nozzle of a rocket propulsion system to operate at two or more different nozzle area ratios. This provides an improved vehicle flight performance or increased payload. The insert has significant advantages over existing devices for increasing nozzle area ratios. The insert is temporarily fastened by a simple retaining mechanism to the aft end of the diverging segment of the nozzle and provides for a multi-step variation of nozzle area ratio. When mounted in place, the insert provides the nozzle with a low nozzle area ratio. During flight, the retaining mechanism is released and the insert ejected thereby providing a high nozzle area ratio in the diverging nozzle segment.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.