What is an orbital insertion?

Exploration Basics Read more from
Chapter Exploring the Solar System

An orbital insertion is the process of maneuvering a spacecraft into a stable orbit around a solar system object. This kind of maneuver is perhaps the trickiest and one of the most difficult of any space exploration mission because it requires precise timing and tremendous amounts of fuel compared to just about any other maneuver. A little miscalculation can cause the spacecraft to fly off into deep space or crash into the body it is trying to orbit! If an orbital insertion is successful, however, it leads to months or years of detailed scientific data-gathering.


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