What is an Orbital Velocity?

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Sep 9, 2022

Orbital Velocity is defined as the minimum velocity at which an object requires to revolve around another object. The objects that revolve around the earth in a uniform circular motion are said to be in an orbit and the orbital velocity is essential to ensure that the object stays in its intended orbit. The inertia of a moving body tends to make it move in a straight line, however, in space, the gravitational force of the earth pulls the moving body down and the path that is traced is then elliptical.

The concept of orbital velocity is very essential in space exploration. It is primarily used by space agencies to understand how to launch space satellites and how to maintain orbit at a specific velocity.

If the satellite’s orbital velocity is higher than the optimal value, it faces the risk of flying out of orbit and into space, rendering the satellite out of bounds. Additionally, If the orbital velocity is kept too low, the satellite will be pulled back to earth due to gravity causing it to crash and burn. Hence, if the correct orbital velocity is maintained the gravity of the earth balances the inertia of the satellite, pulling it down to the earth’s surface just enough to enable the satellite to traverse in its intended orbit.

At higher altitudes, the speed required to keep a satellite in orbit changes. The speed of the satellite in an orbit is inversely proportional to the altitude from the earth’s surface.

The orbital velocity of any given satellite is calculated by the given formula:

where v = Orbital velocity, G = Gravitational constant, M = Mass of the body at center, and R = Radius of the orbit.

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