Satellite - Orbit Types

Orbit Types

The first satellite, Sputnik 1, was put into orbit around Earth and was therefore in geocentric orbit. By far this is the most common type of orbit with approximately 2456 artificial satellites orbiting the Earth. Geocentric orbits may be further classified by their altitude, inclination and eccentricity.

The commonly used altitude classifications are Low Earth orbit (LEO), Medium Earth orbit (MEO) and High Earth orbit (HEO). Low Earth orbit is any orbit below 2000 km, and Medium Earth orbit is any orbit higher than that but still below the altitude for geosynchronous orbit at 35786 km. High Earth orbit is any orbit higher than the altitude for geosynchronous orbit.

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