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A retrograde orientation is one that has the ship facing in the opposite direction from its direction of travel in its orbit.

A retrograde burn is one in that direction, i.e. that subtracts from the ship's orbital speed.

The effect of a retrograde burn is to lower the orbit's altitude (opposite the ship's current location); it is thus used when approaching a planet or moon and assuming a closed orbit, or when landing.

See also:

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