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Geostationary orbit

Geostationary orbit is a circular orbit in the plane of the equator at nearly 36 000 km altitude. The satellite is placed into an elliptical orbit called a geostationary transfer orbit, which it follows spontaneously; the apogee is close to the final altitude and the perigee is at around 200 km altitude. The orbit is then progressively made circular by 3 or 4 thrusts from the apogee kick motor, fired as the satellite passes the apogee.

This altitude demands considerable resources. For example, Ariane rockets can be used, whereas the American shuttles would not have been capable.

Geostationary orbit is a geosynchronous orbit where the inclination and eccentricity are zero.



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