or·​bit·​er | \ˈȯr-bə-tər \

Definition of orbiter 

: one that orbits: such as

a : a spacecraft designed to orbit a celestial body without landing on its surface

b : space shuttle

Examples of orbiter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

That’s why conventional exploration methods usually call for an orbiter or vehicle to fly by a world first before landing on it. Loren Grush, The Verge, "NASA’s Europa lander may be in jeopardy after the midterms — and some are fine with seeing it go," 10 Nov. 2018 With Cassini low on fuel, scientists opted to destroy the spacecraft rather than leaving the orbiter to drift around space. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Alien life on Saturn's moon? Dust storms on Titan spotted for the first time," 25 Sep. 2018 The Hayabusa2 orbiter is scheduled to depart from Ryugu in December 2019. Mike Wall, Space.com, "Landing Site on Asteroid Ryugu Chosen for Japan's Hayabusa2 Mission," 23 Aug. 2018 The spending plan would direct NASA to launch the orbiter by 2022 and the lander by 2024. Lauren Morello, Scientific American, "U.S. Science Agencies Set to Win Big in Budget Deal," 22 Mar. 2018 But in my book, the first rocket to launch an orbiter to Neptune wins. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Falcon Heavy for the Outer Solar System," 2 Mar. 2018 In 2015, the Venus orbiter Akatsuki spotted something strange in the planet’s atmosphere: a giant bow wave that stretched across almost the entire surface of the planet. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The Winds on Venus Blow Hard Enough to Shorten the Day," 20 June 2018 The dust storm covered one-fourth of the planet, and communication between Earth and the orbiter was cut off more than a week ago. Richard Tribou, OrlandoSentinel.com, "NASA image shows blue sand dune on Mars," 26 June 2018 Instead, the device appears to be an anti-satellite weapon, designed to blind sensitive optics and other sensors aboard a hostile spacecraft that dared to approach the Soviet orbiter. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "The Soviet Laser Space Pistol, Revealed," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'orbiter.' 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 orbiter

1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for orbiter

orbit entry 3 + -er entry 2

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Statistics for orbiter

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for orbiter

The first known use of orbiter was in 1951

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English Language Learners Definition of orbiter

: a vehicle or device that travels around a planet or moon in space

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