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The light filament formed by intense femtosecond laser pulses in air can be used to generate the effective impulse to propel a micro glass bead. In this report, through both experimental studies and the corresponding numerical simulations that involve the dynamics of the nonlinear propagation of light and the laser ablation mechanism, we confirm that this propulsion scheme is based on the laser ablation of the target material. The fundamental characteristics of laser propulsion using a single ultrafast laser filament is also revealed.