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Well-known (overlapping) classes include low Earth orbit, polar orbit, and geostationary orbit.A launch vehicle is a rocket that throws a satellite into orbit. Some are launched at sea from a submarine or a mobile maritime platform, or aboard a plane (see air launch to orbit).A few large satellites have been launched in parts and assembled in orbit.Over a dozen space probes have been placed into orbit around other bodies and become artificial satellites to the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, a few asteroids, and the Sun. Common types include military and civilian Earth observation satellites, communications satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and space telescopes.Since then, about 6,600 satellites from more than 40 countries have been launched.According to a 2013 estimate, 3,600 remained in orbit.Sputnik 1 helped to identify the density of high atmospheric layers through measurement of its orbital change and provided data on radio-signal distribution in the ionosphere.

This in turn triggered the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States.

while the rest have lived out their useful lives and became space debris.

Approximately 500 operational satellites are in low-Earth orbit, 50 are in medium-Earth orbit (at 20,000 km), and the rest are in geostationary orbit (at 36,000 km).

Space stations and human spacecraft in orbit are also satellites.

Satellite orbits vary greatly, depending on the purpose of the satellite, and are classified in a number of ways.

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