A differential emission measure technique is used to determine flare spectra using solar observations from the soft X-ray instruments aboard the Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics Dynamics and Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment satellites. We examine the effect of the solar flare soft X-ray energy input on the nitric oxide (NO) density in the lower thermosphere. The retrieved spectrum of the 28 October 2003 X18 flare is input to a photochemical thermospheric NO model to calculate the predicted flare NO enhancements. Model results are compared to Student Nitric Oxide Explorer Ultraviolet Spectrometer observations of this flare. We present results of this comparison and show that the model and data are in agreement. In addition, the NO density enhancements due to several flares are studied. We present results that show large solar flares can deposit the same amount of 0.1-2 and 0.1-7 nm energy to the thermosphere during a relatively short time as the Sun normally deposits in one day. The NO column density nearly doubles when the daily integrated energy above 5 J m-2 is doubled.