low earth orbit


Definition of low earth orbit 

: a usually circular orbit from about 90 to 600 miles (about 140 to 970 kilometers) above the earth

Examples of low earth orbit in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

That hasn't stopped a new generation of mega-rockets built for propelling humans beyond low Earth orbit. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Russia's New Rocket Project Might Resurrect a Soviet-Era Colossus," 24 July 2018 Then, to everyone’s amazement, Russians and Americans put animals and people in low Earth orbit, above the sky. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Read an excerpt from Kim Stanley Robinson’s next book," 18 Oct. 2018 The Hubble, which was built by NASA with contributions from the European Space Agency, has been in low Earth orbit since 1990. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Bizarre pulsar in deep space is giving off a strange light and scientists don't know why," 18 Sep. 2018 In either case, the Soyuz can then lift off from Baikonur and link up with the Block-DM stage in the low Earth orbit for the subsequent boost in the direction of the Moon. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Russia's Soyuz Spacecraft Could Find New Life as a Lunar Taxi," 6 July 2018 But the second stage stays in space throughout the flight; to drop off a satellite in low Earth orbit, for instance, the second stage has to reach up to 17,000 miles per hour. Loren Grush, The Verge, "How Elon Musk could recover rockets with balloons — just not the party kind," 18 Apr. 2018 In a little more than a year, Firefly hopes to send a 1,000kg payload to low Earth orbit on top of its Alpha launch vehicle powered by its Lightning engine. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Staring at Firefly Aerospace’s hot rocket-engine flames in a Texas pasture," 17 Mar. 2018 Space junk is one measure of humanity's increasing presence in low earth orbit (LEO). David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Harpoon-Based Space Junk Capture System Is Getting Space Tested," 25 June 2018 The Phantom Express will launch its upper stage to deploy small satellites into low Earth orbit and then land on a runway to be prepared for its next flight. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Mysterious Washington “launch,” Aerojet tests, BFR job posting," 15 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'low earth orbit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of low earth orbit

1961, in the meaning defined above

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low earth orbit




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Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

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The first known use of low earth orbit was in 1961

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a nest or breeding place

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