Colloid thruster

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20 μN colloid thruster system.[1]

A colloid thruster (or "electrospray thruster") is a type of low thrust electric propulsion rocket engine that uses electrostatic acceleration of charged liquid droplets for propulsion. In a colloid thruster, charged liquid droplets are produced by an electrospray process and then accelerated by a static electric field. The liquid used for this application tends to be a low-volatility ionic liquid.

Like other ion thrusters, its benefits include high efficiency, thrust density, and specific impulse; however it has very low total thrust, on the order of micronewtons. It could provide very fine attitude control or efficient acceleration of small spacecraft over long periods of time.

Flight use[edit]

An electrospray thruster is being used in space on the ST-7 LISA Pathfinder mission, to demonstrate disturbance reduction.[1]

By the end of April 2015, Busek had developed a smaller colloid thruster capable of generating 20 mN in a 7"×7"×1.7" package.[2]

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