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Memory Alpha

A decaying orbit is an orbit around a planet or moon that loses altitude over time, eventually falling into the atmosphere, or impacting the surface, of the parent object.

In 2152, the criminal Kuroda Lor-ehn placed his stolen Enolian prison transport into a decaying orbit over Tamaal, planning to let the craft disintegrate during atmospheric entry while he, his Nausicaan accomplice, Jonathan Archer, and Charles Tucker III escaped on an Enolian shuttle. Ultimately, Kuroda went down with the ship while Enterprise NX-01 rescued everyone else. (ENT: "Canamar")

In 2267, the stranded class F shuttlecraft Galileo entered a decaying orbit over Taurus II after an emergency launch from the surface. Originally intending to using his remaining fuel reserves to remain in orbit for 45 minutes, during which the nearby USS Enterprise would hopefully detect and rescue the crew, Commander Spock ultimately decided to dump and ignite his remaining fuel to directly signal the Enterprise. (TOS: "The Galileo Seven")

In 2364, the Ornaran freighter Sanction became trapped in a decaying orbit over Brekka after suffering a power failure. The USS Enterprise-D managed to save four of its six passengers and crew, along with its cargo of felicium, before the freighter was destroyed in the atmosphere. (TNG: "Symbiosis")

In 2380, the orbit of Mixtus III's fifth moon began to decay, threatening the survival of the planet's inhabitants. The moon was subsequently demolished by the USS Vancouver and USS Cerritos, forming a new ring system around the planet instead. (LD: "Cupid's Errant Arrow")

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