thruster n.

an engine that creates thrust, esp. a small rocket engine used to adjust the attitude or course of a spacecraft in flight


  • 1949 E. C. Evans-Fox in Liverpool Echo 28 Jan. 2/2

    ‘Thrusters’ giving rocket action at an angle to the hull will allow for manoeuvring.

  • 1951 I. Asimov C-Chute in Galaxy Oct. 31/2 page image Isaac Asimov bibliography

    The coarse adjustment was the powerful thrusters back and front which fixed final velocity by their accelerative and decelerative force.

  • 1966 F. Pohl Relativistic Dilemma in Worlds of If June 4/2 page image Frederik Pohl

    The more massive our Gemini capsule becomes the more difficult to accelerate; and you can’t really push it up to the infinite-mass stage without infinite force in the thrusters to do the job.

  • 1969 C. Kapp Getaway from Getawehi in New Writings in SF-16 vi. 53 page image Colin Kapp bibliography

    ‘Make ready for touchdown. Cut outer jets. Full boost on central thruster...’ Van Noon’s voice continued precisely above the wave of sound as the mammoth ship loomed in the air above them.

  • 1970 L. Niven Ringworld (1973) viii. 99 page image Larry Niven bibliography

    Speaker ran the big fusion motors up to full power. He tilted the flat thruster discs out of the plane of the wing, lining their axes along ship’s aft, and added their thrust to the rockets. The Liar backed into the system blazing like twin suns, decelerating at nearly two hundred gravities.

  • 1973 A. C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama xxxi. 145 page image Arthur C. Clarke bibliography

    They could not possibly lift the weight of a man, even against Rama’s modest gravity. Could an EVA thruster be sent up on automatic control, carrying only a rescue line? He had tried out this idea on Sergeant Myron, who had promptly shot it down.

  • 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye xiv. 113 page image Larry Niven Jerry Pournelle bibliography

    Whitbread coasted slowly inward. He rode a space-to-space taxi, the cabin a polarized plastic bubble, the short hull studded with ‘thruster clusters’—arrays of attitude jets.

  • 1979 G. Roddenberry Star Trek: The Motion Picture vi. 51 page image Gene Roddenberry bibliography

    Montgomery Scott, with some unexpected flair for drama, had maneuvered to keep the starship from Kirk’s sight until the last possible moment. Then, he had used the lateral thruster to nudge their travel pod into a sweeping turn, bringing Enterprise into glorious full view.

  • 1987 B. Bova Battle Station in Battle Station 41 page image Ben Bova bibliography

    ‘I don’t want that gas spurting out and acting like a rocket thruster,’ Hazard explained to her back. ‘Besides, it’s an old submariner’s trick to let the attacker think he’s caused real damage by jettisoning junk.’

  • 1996 J. Mortimore Clark’s Law vii. 74 page image Jim Mortimore bibliography

    Franklin could see little puffs of vapor from a personal thruster as the figure sped toward him. Delvientos spoke and flew at the same time.

  • 2008 C. Stross Saturn’s Children i. 29 page image Charles Stross bibliography

    Mercury’s escape velocity is over four kilometers per second, and there’s no atmosphere to speak of. We are coming in at just over orbital velocity, without a thruster pack, and there can’t possibly be enough orbital tethers for this crowd. But the Mercurials have come up with a solution: the equatorial maglev track.

  • 2019 T. Onyebuchi War Girls lix. 388 Tochi Onyebuchi bibliography

    Her cockpit shudders. Daren raises his hammer and plunges it down. Onyii powers her thrusters to lift her up, then backward, just out of the way of his strike.

Research requirements

antedating 1949

Earliest cite

E.C. Evans-Fox (Chairman of the Canadian Rocket Society)

Research History
Suggested by Ben Ostrowsky.
Simon Koppel submitted a 1949 cite from E.C. Evans-Fox.

OED2 has a 1962 quotation from John Glenn; the entry has not been revised.

Last modified 2021-05-14 18:36:19
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.