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).
|Type / Application:||ELINT|
|Contractors:||TRW → Northrop Grumman Space Technology|
|Configuration:||Large Dish Antenna, 3-Axis-Stabilization|
|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.)|