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Would all types of advanced non-chemical propulsion (such as ion, plasma, fusion etc) for spacecraft, cause nearby objects to be "blown away" (like when chemical rockets takeoff)?

Also would they be blown back with the same intensity?

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Rockets are momentum machines: they work because they expel something that has momentum, pushing themselves forward. So there is going to be something with momentum hitting the environment behind it - this will typically scatter and "blow away" stuff. Of course, if the exhaust is nuclear plasma or gamma ray photons the effect might be more like a knife slicing through matter than the more spherical wind you get from rocket exhaust against the unyielding ground.

Solar sail and beamed propulsion don't have these effects, since there the momentum is supplied externally (but don't get into the way of an acceleration laser!)

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  • $\begingroup$ "Of course, if the exhaust is nuclear plasma or gamma ray photons the effect might be more like a knife slicing through matter than the more spherical wind you get from rocket exhaust against the unyielding ground." -- Would you go into detail regarding this? I'm interested in learning more about what the effects could be from these propulsion sources. $\endgroup$ – bluet Oct 5 '18 at 7:53

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