I have a follow-up question in response to this answer by @uhoh, basically asking about higher order effects alluded to in their answer.

If the ion exhaust plume coming off an ion engine remain ionized for some time after emission, say by separating the electron and ion beam emission points, could a meaningfully larger amount of thrust be generated using the $r^{-3}$ potential that the drive grid generates? How about if we allowed the spacecraft to become positively charged by emitting a surplus of electrons?

This potential should push against the ion cloud outside the spacecraft, continuing to accelerate them even after the ions "left" the spacecraft.

This is obviously going to be an extremely tiny force, but I'm wondering how it compares to the force generated by the electron emission alone.



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