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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 or maneuvering jets, often simply known as thrusters or jets, were used by starships and other spacecraft to make precise movements in lieu of primary impulse or warp engine use. Proton's rocket ship, a fictional rocket ship, operated with the, theoretically, similar form of propulsion known as steering jets.


The thrusters were low-power reaction control jets that could be used for fine translational 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")

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 II-class, 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")

Within Federation spacedocks, all vessels were required to stay at maneuvering thrusters until they had cleared the outer space doors. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)


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")

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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