What is an ION thruster and which types are there?

An ION thruster is a way of electric propulsion whereby IONS are accelerated by electricity, therefore creating thrust. Modern ion thrusters use inert gases for propellant, like xenon, that creates positive IONS and negative electrons called plasma. ION thrusters are the propulsion of choice because it is efficient and enables spacecraft to travel faster, cheaper, and further.

What kind of ion thrusters are there?

There are two different sorts of ion thrusters:

  • Electrostatic: moves the ions in the electric field direction by Coulomb force
  • Electromagnetic: makes the ions move by Lorentz force

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