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What types of propulsion are used to adjust the orbit of an object such as a satellite, space station, supply vehicle?

I'm curious if they all use the same method to adjust their trajectory, or if there are a variety of approaches taken. I am just looking for a list so I can read up on the topic further.

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    $\begingroup$ I started trying to think of a list, but the best I could come up with was "pretty much all of them, probably minus nuclear". $\endgroup$ Nov 27 '21 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ Big engines and Small engines, Hydrolox and Kerolox and Bipropellant and Monopropellant, Hydrazine Thrusters and Hall thrusters, ion thrusters and other electrical propulsions of a great many styles and flavors. There's a test of solar electrolized-water-hydrolox out there! Even light pressure and electrodynamic torquers(which not only torque, but also apply a minute linear acceleration). And that's just to start with. I don't think there is a VASIMR plasma drive out there right now, but there sure were plans for it. The sky is (not) the limit! $\endgroup$ Nov 27 '21 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you mean to ask "What types of propulsion are most commonly used to adjust the orbit of satellites?".. In which case the answer is more like: Hydrazine thrusters, and Hall-effect thrusters. With the latter gaining market very rapidly due to the Horde (a.k.a. the Starlink constellation) using Krypton Hall-effect thrusters, 1 each.(1844 to date, 42 000 planned) $\endgroup$ Nov 27 '21 at 10:33
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    $\begingroup$ @DanSorensen even limiting it to "current" would not shorten the list by methods, merely reduce the different models of devices in use. But for on-orbit satellites, just stationkeeping or slightly adjusting orbit, it's 90% hydrazine thrusters(where quick <1hour sometimes <1 minute thrusts are needed), or Hall Effect "ion" thrusters(where economy of fuel or power is important, and burn times reach days). $\endgroup$ Nov 27 '21 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Jason :) :D Yes that sort of thing was intended, I'm glad it shone through even if faintly. I wanted to compose it to the rhyme of "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!", but could not get the metre right. $\endgroup$ Nov 28 '21 at 6:39
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Pretty much everything is on the table, as an orbital environment puts little restrictions on what can work. So for an extensive list, wikipedia - spacecraft propulsion has a handy table. While most of them can be used, sort by technology readiness level for a more realistic view of what's available.

For most practical use cases outside mere technology demonstrations, there are:

  • Simple cold gas thrusters.
  • Chemical engines: monopropellants, bipropellants and solid fuel all used.
  • Electric thrusters: electrostatic and Hall effect.

Common types of engines you will Not find in orbit:

  • Jet engines, due to the lack of atmosphere, though ion engines taking advantage of the imperfect vacuum of low orbit has been proposed.
  • Large powerful first stage engines, as their power are wasted on the very modestly sized payload we can currently get into orbit.
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