sub·​or·​bit·​al | \ ˌsəb-ˈȯr-bə-tᵊl How to pronounce suborbital (audio) \

Definition of suborbital

1 : situated beneath the eye or the orbit of the eye
2 : being or involving less than one orbit (as of the earth or moon) also : intended for suborbital flight

Examples of suborbital in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

On January 10, Musk tweeted a photograph of a test version of Starship—essentially a prototype that can be used for suborbital VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) test flights, reaching around 16,400 feet. Ryan D'agostino, Popular Mechanics, "Elon Musk: Why I'm Building the Starship out of Stainless Steel," 22 Jan. 2019 All of those went to orbit, though, while the New Shepard that is launching today is only suborbital. Loren Grush, The Verge, "How to watch four rocket launches on a banner day for the space industry," 18 Dec. 2018 Elsewhere, Blue Origin was scheduled to conduct a launch of the New Shepard to suborbital space, but Jeff Bezos' company also had to scrub its launch. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "SpaceX and Blue Origin Launches Scrubbed, Will Try Again Wednesday," 18 Dec. 2018 It's meant for suborbital VTOL testing (vertical takeoff and landing). David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Elon Musk Reveals SpaceX's New Retro Test Rocket," 11 Jan. 2019 SpaceShipTwo, the company's suborbital space plane, was ferried to an altitude of 50,000 feet by WhiteKnightTwo, a twin-fuselage carrier aircraft. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Virgin Galactic Completes Successful Flight in Big Boost for Space Tourism," 13 Dec. 2018 The rocket motor fired as expected for 60 seconds, blasting the test vehicle into a suborbital trajectory. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "Richard Branson’s Space-Tourism Company Rockets Out of Atmosphere for First Time," 13 Dec. 2018 Virgin is beginning to move staff to New Mexico—about 40 so far, with another 100 or so to come—as the company prepares to send passengers to suborbital flight. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, "Across the U.S., the Spaceport Race Is On," 11 Aug. 2018 Hypersonic jets could also stack up favorably against vehicles in the other end of the spectrum: suborbital rockets. Eric Adams, WIRED, "Boeing’s Proposed Hypersonic Plane Is Really, Really Fast," 28 June 2018

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

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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The first known use of suborbital was in 1803

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More Definitions for suborbital


sub·​or·​bit·​al | \ ˌsəb-ˈȯr-bət-ᵊl How to pronounce suborbital (audio) \

Medical Definition of suborbital

: situated or occurring beneath the eye or the orbit of the eye suborbital fat

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


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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