Re: Retrograde orbit (was Unidentified subject!)

From: Ralph McConahy (
Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 21:14:43 PST

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    Jonathan T. Wojack at wrote:
    >But if it is a retrograde orbit, how does it stay in orbit?  What is the
    >difference in relation to the graviton field of Earth if a satellite is
    >in a reverse "normal" orbit, or in a retrograde orbit?
    The orbit of all satellites is an ellipse with the gravitational center of
    the earth's mass as one of the foci. It is irrelevant if the body [earth in
    this case] is rotating, or which way it is rotating. The difficult part
    about retrograde orbits is not maintaining orbit once the satellite gets
    there, but the fact that whereas launching toward the east takes advantage
    of the earth's rotation, launching toward the west is fighting the rotation
    and therefore requires the rocket to first overcome the earth's rotation
    before obtaining orbital velocity. Consequently, payloads launched into
    retrograde orbit are generally lighter in weight.
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