Thrusters (spacecraft)

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A thruster is a spacecraft propulsion device used for orbital station-keeping, attitude control, or long-duration, low-thrust acceleration, often as part of a reaction control system. A vernier thruster or gimbaled engine are particular cases used on launch vehicles where a secondary rocket engine or other high thrust device is used to control the attitude of the rocket, while the primary thrust engine (generally also a rocket engine) is fixed to the rocket and supplies the principal amount of thrust. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Some devices that are used or proposed for use as thrusters are:

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spacecraft propulsion</span> Method used to accelerate spacecraft

Spacecraft propulsion is any method used to accelerate spacecraft and artificial satellites. In-space propulsion exclusively deals with propulsion systems used in the vacuum of space and should not be confused with space launch or atmospheric entry.

A resistojet is a method of spacecraft propulsion that provides thrust by heating a, typically non-reactive, fluid. Heating is usually achieved by sending electricity through a resistor consisting of a hot incandescent filament, with the expanded gas expelled through a conventional nozzle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hall-effect thruster</span> Type of electric propulsion system

In spacecraft propulsion, a Hall-effect thruster (HET) is a type of ion thruster in which the propellant is accelerated by an electric field. Hall-effect thrusters are sometimes referred to as Hall thrusters or Hall-current thrusters. Hall-effect thrusters use a magnetic field to limit the electrons' axial motion and then use them to ionize propellant, efficiently accelerate the ions to produce thrust, and neutralize the ions in the plume. The Hall-effect thruster is classed as a moderate specific impulse space propulsion technology and has benefited from considerable theoretical and experimental research since the 1960s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ion thruster</span> Spacecraft engine that generates thrust by generating a jet of ions

An ion thruster, ion drive, or ion engine is a form of electric propulsion used for spacecraft propulsion. It creates thrust by accelerating ions using electricity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnetoplasmadynamic thruster</span> Form of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion

A magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster (MPDT) is a form of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion which uses the Lorentz force to generate thrust. It is sometimes referred to as Lorentz Force Accelerator (LFA) or MPD arcjet.

A pulsed plasma thruster (PPT), also known as a plasma jet engine, is a form of electric spacecraft propulsion. PPTs are generally considered the simplest form of electric spacecraft propulsion and were the first form of electric propulsion to be flown in space, having flown on two Soviet probes starting in 1964. PPTs are generally flown on spacecraft with a surplus of electricity from abundantly available solar energy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket</span> Electrothermal thruster in development

The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) is an electrothermal thruster under development for possible use in spacecraft propulsion. It uses radio waves to ionize and heat an inert propellant, forming a plasma, then a magnetic field to confine and accelerate the expanding plasma, generating thrust. It is a plasma propulsion engine, one of several types of spacecraft electric propulsion systems.

Thruster may refer to:

Field-emission electric propulsion (FEEP) is an advanced electrostatic space propulsion concept, a form of ion thruster, that uses a liquid metal as a propellant – usually either caesium, indium, or mercury.

A propellant is a mass that is expelled or expanded in such a way as to create a thrust or other motive force in accordance with Newton's third law of motion, and "propel" a vehicle, projectile, or fluid payload. In vehicles, the engine that expels the propellant is called a reaction engine. Although technically a propellant is the reaction mass used to create thrust, the term "propellant" is often used to describe a substance which is contains both the reaction mass and the fuel that holds the energy used to accelerate the reaction mass. For example, the term "propellant" is often used in chemical rocket design to describe a combined fuel/propellant, although the propellants should not be confused with the fuel that is used by an engine to produce the energy that expels the propellant. Even though the byproducts of substances used as fuel are also often used as a reaction mass to create the thrust, such as with a chemical rocket engine, propellant and fuel are two distinct concepts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laser propulsion</span>

Laser propulsion is a form of beam-powered propulsion where the energy source is a remote laser system and separate from the reaction mass. This form of propulsion differs from a conventional chemical rocket where both energy and reaction mass come from the solid or liquid propellants carried on board the vehicle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gridded ion thruster</span> Space propulsion system

The gridded ion thruster is a common design for ion thrusters, a highly efficient low-thrust spacecraft propulsion running on electrical power. These designs use high-voltage grid electrodes to accelerate ions with electrostatic forces.

This is an alphabetical list of articles pertaining specifically to aerospace engineering. For a broad overview of engineering, see List of engineering topics. For biographies, see List of engineers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plasma propulsion engine</span> Type of electric propulsion

A plasma propulsion engine is a type of electric propulsion that generates thrust from a quasi-neutral plasma. This is in contrast with ion thruster engines, which generate thrust through extracting an ion current from the plasma source, which is then accelerated to high velocities using grids/anodes. These exist in many forms. However, in the scientific literature, the term "plasma thruster" sometimes encompasses thrusters usually designated as "ion engines".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spacecraft electric propulsion</span> Type of space propulsion

Spacecraft electric propulsion is a type of spacecraft propulsion technique that uses electrostatic or electromagnetic fields to accelerate mass to high speed and thus generate thrust to modify the velocity of a spacecraft in orbit. The propulsion system is controlled by power electronics.

A cold gas thruster is a type of rocket engine which uses the expansion of a pressurized gas to generate thrust. As opposed to traditional rocket engines, a cold gas thruster does not house any combustion and therefore has lower thrust and efficiency compared to conventional monopropellant and bipropellant rocket engines. Cold gas thrusters have been referred to as the "simplest manifestation of a rocket engine" because their design consists only of a fuel tank, a regulating valve, a propelling nozzle, and the little required plumbing. They are the cheapest, simplest, and most reliable propulsion systems available for orbital maintenance, maneuvering and attitude control.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rocket propellant</span> Chemical or mixture used as fuel for a rocket engine

Rocket propellant is the reaction mass of a rocket. This reaction mass is ejected at the highest achievable velocity from a rocket engine to produce thrust. The energy required can either come from the propellants themselves, as with a chemical rocket, or from an external source, as with ion engines.

LEROS is a family of chemical rocket engines manufactured by Nammo at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. LEROS engines have been used as primary apogee engines for telecommunications satellites such as the Lockheed Martin A2100 as well as deep space missions such as Juno.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liquid apogee engine</span>

A liquid apogee engine (LAE), or apogee engine, refers to a type of chemical rocket engine typically used as the main engine in a spacecraft.

Microwave electrothermal thruster, also known as MET, is a propulsion device that converts microwave energy into thermal energy. These thrusters are predominantly used in spacecraft propulsion, more specifically to adjust the spacecraft’s position and orbit. A MET sustains and ignites a plasma in a propellant gas. This creates a heated propellant gas which in turn changes into thrust due to the expansion of the gas going through the nozzle. A MET’s heating feature is like one of an arc-jet ; however, due to the free-floating plasma, there are no problems with the erosion of metal electrodes, and therefore the MET is more efficient.


  1. "Thruster". the Free Dictionary by Farlex. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  2. "thruster". Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged (Hardcover) (12th ed.). HarperCollins Publishers. 2014. ISBN   9780007522743 . Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  3. "Basics of flight: Rocket Propulsion". Rocket & Space Technology. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  4. "space Propulsion Systems". Airbus Safran Launchers . Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  5. "Thruster". Collins English Dictionary . Retrieved 2016-09-21.