Abstract A rovibrational collisional coarse-grain model has been developed to reduce a detailed mechanism for the internal energy excitation and dissociation processes behind a strong shockwave in a nitrogen flow. The rovibrational energy levels of the electronic ground state of the nitrogen molecule were lumped into a smaller number of bins. The reaction rate coefficients of an ab initio database developed at NASA Ames Research Center were averaged for each bin based on a uniform distribution of the energy levels within the bin. The results were obtained by coupling the Master equation for the reduced mechanism with a one-dimensional flow solver for conditions expected for reentry into Earth’s atmosphere at 10km/s. The coarse-grain collisional model developed allow us to describe accurately the internal energy relaxation and dissociation processes based on a smaller number of equations, as opposed to existing reduced models assuming thermal equilibrium between the rotational and translational energy modes.