What do you mean by Graveyard Orbit?

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Sep 8, 2022

A graveyard orbit is an orbit at an altitude of 36,050 Km above the earth’s surface (higher than most common operational orbits) where decommissioned satellites are moved to reduce the probability of them crashing into other functional satellites and generating space debris.

Decommissioned satellites are those satellites that operate at high altitudes and cannot be brought back to the earth’s surface where they can be disposed of safely. Such satellites are then pushed above to an altitude of 36,050 Km above the earth’s surface in two stages of thrust (Burn 1 & 2) as observed in the image above, where the satellite than can maintain itself in the graveyard orbit while keeping a safe distance from all the other functional satellites.

For Satellites operating in geostationary or geosynchronous orbits, the graveyard orbit is a few hundred km above the operational orbits. De-orbiting a geostationary satellite and bringing it back to earth consumes a lot of fuel whereas re-orbiting the mentioned satellite to the graveyard orbit is very efficient and consumes less fuel.

Click here to learn more about Space Debris.

Space Missions - A list of all Space Missions

esa

Name Date
Altius 01 May, 2025
Arctic Weather Satellite (AWS) 01 Mar, 2024
Eutelsat Quantum 30 Jul, 2021
Sentinel 6 21 Nov, 2020
Cheops 18 Dec, 2019
EDRS 06 Aug, 2019
BepiColombo 20 Oct, 2018
Aeolus 22 Aug, 2018
Sentinel 3B 25 Apr, 2018
Sentinel 5 13 Oct, 2017

isro

Name Date
INSAT-3DS 17 Feb, 2024
XPoSat 01 Jan, 2024
Aditya-L1 02 Sep, 2023
DS-SAR 30 Jul, 2023
Chandrayaan-3 14 Jul, 2023
NVS-01 29 May, 2023
TeLEOS-2 22 Apr, 2023
OneWeb India-2 26 Mar, 2023
EOS-07 10 Feb, 2023
EOS-06 26 Nov, 2022

jaxa

Name Date
XRISM 07 Sep, 2023
SLIM 07 Sep, 2023
ALOS-3 07 Mar, 2023
ISTD-3 07 Oct, 2022
HTV9 21 May, 2020
HTV8 25 Sep, 2019
HTV7 23 Sep, 2018
HTV6 09 Dec, 2016
HTV5 19 Aug, 2015
HTV4 04 Aug, 2013

nasa

Name Date
NEO Surveyor 01 Jun, 2028
Libera 01 Dec, 2027
Europa Clipper 10 Oct, 2024
SpaceX CRS-29 09 Nov, 2023
Psyche 13 Oct, 2023
DSOC 13 Oct, 2023
Psyche Asteroid 05 Oct, 2023
Expedition 70 27 Sep, 2023
SpaceX Crew-7 25 Aug, 2023
STARLING 18 Jul, 2023