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Maneuvering thrusters (often referred to as simply thrusters) were used by starships and other spacecraft to make precise movements in lieu of primary impulse or warp engine use. The thrusters were low-power reaction control jets that could be used for fine positional and attitudinal control, including station-keeping. They were most typically used in docking or similar maneuvers. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek; TNG: "Booby Trap")
In 2153, Travis Mayweather, while piloting Shuttlepod 2 away from an asteroid, lost the left thruster due to debris from the asteroids. He made it back to Enterprise NX-01 only using the right thruster. (ENT: "Impulse")
All reaction-based technologies operated on the Newtonian principle of the "Law of Inertia": that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. This was similar in some ways to impulse engine technologies and thrusters were sometimes called impulse thrusters or maneuvering jets. (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals"; TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "Coming of Age")
On a Constitution-class refit, the maneuvering thrusters were placed along the outer edges of the hull. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) In Starfleet during the 24th century, maneuvering thrusters were part of the reaction control system and were also placed in similar positions. (VOY: "The Cloud") These were typically placed in groups of four or "quads" on starships. (TNG: "Final Mission"; ENT: "Future Tense")