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Why don’t satellites fall out of the sky?

27 September 2017

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If you've ever wondered how satellites maintain their orbit and don't just drop out of the sky you're not alone. It turns out this is one of the most asked questions about how satellites work.

Satellites are able to orbit around the planet because they are locked into speeds that are fast enough to defeat the downward pull of gravity. Satellites are sent into space by a rocket launched from the ground with enough energy (at least 25,039 mph!) to get outside our atmosphere. Once the rocket reaches its determined location it drops the satellite into its orbit. The initial speed of the satellite maintained as it detaches from the launch vehicle is enough to keep a satellite on orbit for hundreds of years.

Source: NOAA

Image credit: NOAA - Illustration of NOAA's GOES-16 Satellite.

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