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Orion 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

The Orion 3 - 9 satellites, which are generally known as 'Advanced Orion' or 'Mentor', are geostationary signals intelligence satellites, which replaced the Magnum / Orion series. Their purpose is to intercept missile telemetry from Russia and China. Reportedly the COMINT capability of the Mercury satellites was merged into this series

These satellites feature a large dish antenna for signal reception, which has reportedly< a diameter of ~100 m. The satellites of this series are injected directly into the final orbit by the launch vehicle's upper stage, so they did faeture an apogee propulsion system.

The NROL 15 launch is suspected to be the eighth satellite in the Orion series, but due to the higher power launch vehicle, a modified version is also possible. It is also possible, that the satellites called here Orion 8 and 9 might in fact be improved versions funded under the SHARP (SIGINT High Altitude Replenishment Program).

Nation: USA
Type / Application: ELINT
Operator: USAF
Contractors: TRW → Northrop Grumman Space Technology
Equipment: ?
Configuration: Large Dish Antenna, 3-Axis-Stabilization
Propulsion: ?
Lifetime: ?
Mass: ?
Orbit: GEO
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Orion 3 (USA 110) 1995-022A 14.05.1995 CC LC-40 Titan-4(01)A Centaur-T
Orion 4 (USA 139, NROL 6) 1998-029A 09.05.1998 CC LC-40 Titan-4(01)B Centaur-T
Orion 5 (USA 171, NROL 19) 2003-041A 09.09.2003 CC LC-40 Titan-4(01)B Centaur-T
Orion 6 (USA 202, NROL 26) 2009-001A 18.01.2009 CC SLC-37B Delta-4H
Orion 7 (USA 223, NROL 32) 2010-063A 21.11.2010 CC SLC-37B Delta-4H
Orion 8 ? (USA 237, NROL 15) 2012-034A 29.06.2012 CC SLC-37B Delta-4H (upg.)
Orion 9 ? (USA 268, NROL 37) 2016-036A 11.06.2016 CC SLC-37B Delta-4H (upg.)
Orion 10 ? (NROL 44) - 2019 CC SLC-37B Delta-4H (upg.)
Orion 11 ? (NROL 68) - 2020 CC SLC-37B Delta-4H (upg.)
Further high orbit ELINT missions:

Geostationary orbit COMINT (Canyon-Chalet-Vortex-Mercury series) Geostationary orbit SIGINT (Rhyolite-Aquacade-Magnum-Orion series) High elliptical orbit (Jumpseat-Trumpet series)