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Maneuvering thruster

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USS Enterprise-D maneuvering thruster

The Enterprise-D using maneuvering thrusters

Maneuvering thruster

A thruster module from the Enterprise-D propels a stricken vessel

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 spacedock, all vessels were required to stay at maneuvering thrusters until they had cleared the outer space doors. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

All reaction-based technologies operated on the Newtonian principle of the "Law of Inertia": that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This was similar in some ways to impulse engine technologies and thrusters were sometimes called impulse thrusters or impulse 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")

The term "maneuvering thrusters" was initially used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was never heard in TOS or TAS.


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