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Modern rockets like the Falcon 9 use cold gas thrusters for steering on landing approach when the engines are dead.

Cold gas thrusters are common in smaller satellites and spacecraft, which way a fraction of a rocket's first stage.

So I'm wondering: how much force can you get from a cold gas thruster? How powerful do these normally get? I'd be especially interested in specific references to powerful cold gas thrusters or to the rockets that use them.

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  • $\begingroup$ I added "normally" because there is no limit to how much force is possible without constraining the problem to reality somehow. Please feel free to edit further. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 11, 2021 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ No worries! Thanks for catching my typos! $\endgroup$
    – user36480
    Jan 11, 2021 at 5:45

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Seems like usually 100 newtons - 440+ newtons of thrust. This depends on many different factors, though, including the gas being used, the pressure its being fired at, and the size of the nozzle/the mass of whats being fired.

This wikipedia page has information about the gemini spacecrafts' thrusters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaction_control_system

Correction: Falcon 9 second stage uses the draco thruster, which produces 400 newtons. However I'm unable to find any information about the booster.

Each Draco thruster generates 400 newtons (90 lbf) of thrust. They are used as Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters on both the Dragon spacecraft, and on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle second-stage.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Not_Shark! Did you see the 1000 N somewhere? Do you know of any reference to a cold gas thruster rated that high? This would be very helpful to me. $\endgroup$
    – user36480
    Jan 12, 2021 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ I cant find any info about high thrust rcs, although i clarified my message about the falcon 9, sorry for any confusion. $\endgroup$
    – Not_Shark
    Jan 12, 2021 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ "Falcon 9 second stage uses the draco thruster" – F9 does not use the Draco. It uses nitrogen cold-gas thrusters. "However I'm unable to find any information about the booster" – Same. Both stages of the F9 use nitrogen cold-gas thrusters. Draco is only used on the Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon and was used on Dragon v1. The first Starship prototypes had nitrogen cold-gas thrusters as well. Those were always said to be temporary and to be replaced with custom-developed methalox hot-gas thrusters, however, those have since been deleted and SpaceX is now going for using ullage gas for RCS. $\endgroup$ Apr 11 at 6:53

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