Electric Propulsion

A propulsion method I was unaware of is electric propulsion (EP). An EP system consists of thruster components, propellant components, power components, and an optional pointing mechanism. Essentially, electric and magnetic fields react to charged particles in the rocket’s exhaust which accelerates charged particles that make up propellant.

Electric Propulsion System

This requires less energy than chemical rockets due to higher exhaust speeds, however, thrust is much weaker due to limited electric power. Therefore, electric propulsion is not currently used for rocket launches; instead, electric propulsion systems are used for station keeping, orbit raising, and primary propulsion in satellites.


3 thoughts on “Electric Propulsion

  1. Wow I did not know that electric propulsion can be used for propulsion in so many areas. As you mentioned that electric propulsion systems are already in use in primary propulsion in satellites etc., is EP a major method of propulsion in astronomy, or just a less popular alternative? Is it possible for EP to be used for rocket launches one day?


  2. That’s very interesting! I never really considered electric propulsion has a viable option for space travel. However, I wonder if electric propulsion could surpass chemical propulsion if enough research is put into it. But would this time and money used to further research this type of propulsion even be effective in the long run?


  3. From your TA: Great post! I know nothing about electric propulsion, so I learned something new. If you ever get the chance, you should visit the space and rocket center in Huntsville, Alabama! It’s not very far away, and it’s really cool to see all the rockets.


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