aero·​cap·​ture | \ ¦er-ō-¦kap-chər How to pronounce aerocapture (audio) , -shər \

Definition of aerocapture

: the technique of using atmospheric friction to decelerate a space vehicle as it enters a planet's atmosphere : the use of aerobraking to slow down and capture a space vehicle But two of the flight plans call for “direct insertion” by aerocapture. In other words, the spacecraft will come screaming into the Martian atmosphere, where drag, not retrorockets, will slow it down.— Tony Reichhardt, Air & Space, October/November 1999 Aerocapture is being developed for robotic probe missions such as the Mars rovers.— Shelby G. Spires, Seattle Times, 15 Jan. 2004

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of aerocapture

1980, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aerocapture

aero- + capture entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aerocapture

Time Traveler for aerocapture

Time Traveler

The first known use of aerocapture was in 1980

See more words from the same year

Statistics for aerocapture

Cite this Entry

“Aerocapture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

Comments on aerocapture

What made you want to look up aerocapture? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!