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

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Space activities that threaten to fill up low Earth orbit or pulverize a unique asteroid could be similarly scrutinized. Ramin Skibba, Smithsonian, "Greening the Future of Outer Space," 2 June 2018 Building a railroad The key to success in space will be to encourage commercial players to move beyond low Earth orbit and deeper into space, Bridenstine said. Elizabeth Howell, Space.com, "New NASA Chief Sees Moon Missions Building a 'Railroad' to Mars," 9 May 2018 According to the plan, SpaceX's satellites will have low Earth orbits, allowing them to provide Internet service with latency similar to cable and fiber services. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk tweets video of SpaceX’s first broadband satellites in space," 22 Feb. 2018 For about $10 million, Virgin will launch payloads weighing up to half a ton into low Earth orbit. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "With a simple and cheap rocket, Virgin Orbit aims for the extraordinary," 4 June 2018 Having flown on both a Space Shuttle mission and a Russian Soyuz rocket, Williams has spent a cumulative 322 days in low Earth orbit and has seven spacewalks under her belt — once the record for any female astronaut. Loren Grush, The Verge, "NASA veteran Sunita Williams tells us what it’s like to get ready to fly a new spacecraft," 12 Sep. 2018 There could be three or four different companies launching these habitats into low Earth orbit. Henry Williams, WSJ, "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Life off Earth," 3 Jan. 2019 The super-heavy class starts with rockets capable of delivering 50 to 60 tons of payload or more to low Earth orbit (for higher orbits or interplanetary destinations, that number goes down proportionally). Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Russia's New Rocket Project Might Resurrect a Soviet-Era Colossus," 24 July 2018 China, for example, is estimated to have produced up to 25 percent of today’s objects in circulation during an antisatellite test in 2007 in the low Earth orbit. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "China’s failing satellite is just one example of a massive space debris problem," 29 Mar. 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 Dutch

low earth orbit




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Last Updated

1 May 2019

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Time Traveler for low earth orbit

The first known use of low earth orbit was in 1961

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a strong desire or propensity

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