A combination of techniques including launch ballistics, force sensing, and time-resolved ICCD imaging was applied to the study of the mechanisms of liquid ablation in the irradiance regimes from 106-108 W/cm2. A TEA CO2 laser (λ = 10.6 μm), 300 ns pulse width and 9 J pulse energy, was used for ablation of liquids contained in various quartz glass containers in order to examine dependencies on surface tension, absorption depth, etc. Dominant mechanisms of force generation were analyzed in order to determine their characteristics, and the evolution of the liquid surface was studied in depth. Net imparted impulse and coupling coefficient were derived from the force sensor data and ballistics experiments, and relevant results will be presented for various container designs and liquids used. The key differences between surface and volume absorbing liquids was observed. Various mechanisms including plasma formation, vaporization, bulk liquid flow, etc. will be critically examined and their relevance to force generation and propulsion will be determined.