• Post category:Rocket Science
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Today, we will be discussing: What is a Vernier Thruster? Have a look at the below photograph. The encircled part is a Vernier thruster in action.

Today, we will be discussing: What is a Vernier Thruster? Have a look at the below photograph. The encircled part is a Vernier thruster in action.
Today, we will be discussing: What is a Vernier Thruster? Have a look at the below photograph. The encircled part is a Vernier thruster in action.

A vernier thruster is a rocket engine used on a spacecraft for fine adjustments to the attitude or velocity of a spacecraft. Depending on the design of a craft’s maneuvering and stability systems, it may simply be a smaller thruster complementing the main propulsion system, or it may complement larger attitude control thrusters, or may be a part of the reaction control system. The name is derived from vernier calipers (named after Pierre Vernier) which have a primary scale for gross measurements, and a secondary scale for fine measurements.

Vernier thrusters are used when a heavy spacecraft requires a wide range of different thrust levels for attitude or velocity control, as for maneuvering during docking with other spacecraft.

The first and second-stage engines of a Soyuz, showing the four RD-107 modules with twin vernier nozzles each, and the central RD-108 with four steerable vernier thrusters.
The first and second-stage engines of a Soyuz, showing the four RD-107 modules with twin vernier nozzles each, and the central RD-108 with four steerable vernier thrusters.

On space vehicles with two sizes of attitude control thrusters, the main ACS (Attitude Control System) thrusters are used for larger movements, while the verniers are reserved for smaller adjustments.

Due to their weight and the extra plumbing required for their operation, vernier rockets are seldom used in new designs. Instead, as modern rocket engines gained better control, larger thrusters could also be fired for very short pulses, resulting in the same change of momentum as a longer thrust from a smaller thruster.

I hope the above was clear. Feel free to ask questions.

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