Solid Fuel System
- Provide large amounts of thrust.
- Cannot be switched off once ignited.
- Fuel and oxidiser are combined to generate high temperatures and pressures.
- Cavity inside the engine increases in volume as the fuel is combusted.
- Pressure and efficiency fall as the fuel is combusted (due to the increase in volume: pV=nRT)
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Cold Gas System
- Single gas and a nozzle- simplest system.
- Safest of all chemical propulsion systems.
- Less efficient than other chemical propellants.
- The pressure goes down as the gas is used, reducing thrust and efficiency.
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Ion Propulsion System
- Electric propulsion.
- Small amounts of ionised gas are accelerated by an electrostatic field to produce a high speed exhaust.
- Uses far less fuel than a chemical system.
- Inefficient in an atmosphere or during launch.
- Useful in space- only a small thrust is required over a long distance to produce a high change in velocity.
- Can be used as a final thruster or for deep space travel.
- The source of energy for the engine can be either solar or nuclear.
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