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There are several types of electric propulsion. None of these are useful for primary propulsion (getting off the ground and into orbit) because you can't deliver electric power at the enormous rate required. For orbital maneuvering, however, they can be very mass efficient. The sexiest is the ion thruster. It uses xenon gas, which is accelerated by electric grids. This was developed for stationkeeping of geostationary comsats, but also has seen use in deep space probes, see http://nmp.jpl.NASA.gov/ds1/tech/sep.html. The ion engine has a characteristic velocity of about 35 km/s, about ten times what you can get from typical thrusters. There are also resistojets, which heat the propellant with electricity, and plasma arc thrusters, which vaporize a block of Teflon with a big spark.

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โˆ™ 2006-02-25 15:53:30
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Q: Would electricity work for rocket propulsion?
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