Encyclopedia Astronautica
Advanced Orion


American military naval signals intelligence and reconnaisance satellite. Highly classified, operational, first launch 1995.05.14.

First Launch: 1995.05.14.
Last Launch: 2010.11.21.
Number: 5 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta IV The Delta IV was the world's first all-Lox/LH2 launch vehicle and represented the only all-new-technology launch vehicle developed in the United States since the 1970's. It was the winner of the bulk of the USAF EELV orders and was based on the all-new RS-68-powered Lox/LH2 cryogenic Common Booster Core (CBC). This could be used with new Delta cryogenic upper stages powered by the RL10 engine but unrelated to previous Centaur upper stages. More...
  • Titan The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The designs finally put into production were derived from the Titan II ICBM. Titan outlived the competing NASA Saturn I launch vehicle and the Space Shuttle for military launches. It was finally replaced by the USAF's EELV boosters, the Atlas V and Delta IV. Although conceived as a low-cost, quick-reaction system, Titan was not successful as a commercial launch vehicle. Air Force requirements growth over the years drove its costs up - the Ariane using similar technology provided lower-cost access to space. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Titan American orbital launch vehicle. The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The designs finally put into production were derived from the Titan II ICBM. Titan outlived the competing NASA Saturn I launch vehicle and the Space Shuttle for military launches. It was finally replaced by the USAF's EELV boosters, the Atlas V and Delta IV. Although conceived as a low-cost, quick-reaction system, Titan was not successful as a commercial launch vehicle. Air Force requirements growth over the years drove its costs up - the Ariane using similar technology provided lower-cost access to space. More...
  • Titan 4 American orbital launch vehicle. Developed to handle military payloads designed for launch on Shuttle from Vandenberg before the USAF pulled out of the Shuttle program after the Challenger disaster. Further stretch of core from Titan 34, 7-segment solid rocket motors (developed for MOL but not used until 25 years later). Enlarged Centaur G used as upper stage (variant of stage designed for Shuttle but prohibited for flight safety reasons after Challenger). Completely revised electronics. All the changes resulted in major increase in cost of launch vehicle and launch operations. More...
  • Titan 4B American orbital launch vehicle. Titan 4 with Upgraded Solid Rocket Motors replacing UA1207. Developed to improve performance for certain missions, and reduce number of field joints in motor after Challenger and Titan 34D explosions involving segmented motors. More...
  • Delta IV American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta IV was the world's first all-Lox/LH2 launch vehicle and represented the only all-new-technology launch vehicle developed in the United States since the 1970's. It was the winner of the bulk of the USAF EELV orders and was based on the all-new RS-68-powered Lox/LH2 cryogenic Common Booster Core (CBC). This could be used with new Delta cryogenic upper stages powered by the RL10 engine but unrelated to previous Centaur upper stages. It could be flown without augmentation, or use 2-4 large GEM-60 solid rocket boosters. The heavy lift version used two core vehicles as a first stage, flanking the single core vehicle second stage. More...
  • Delta IV Heavy American orbital launch vehicle. Heavy lift all-cryogenic launch vehicle using two Delta-4 core vehicles as first stage flanking a single core vehicle as second stage. A heavy upper stage is carried with a 5 m diameter payload fairing. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Report (Internet Newsletter), Harvard University, Weekly, 1989 to Present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathon, "US Reconnaissance Satellite Programs Part 2", Quest, 1995, Volume 4, Issue 4, page 49.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC40 Titan launch complex. Constructed as part of the Titan Integrate-Transfer-Launch (ITL) facility at the north end of Cape Canaveral in the early 1960s. Supported a wide variety of military space missions involving Titan IIIC, Titan 34D and Titan IV vehicles. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC37B Saturn I, Delta IV launch complex. Complexes 34 and 37 were designed to support NASA's Saturn I and Saturn IB program. Complex 37 was built in 1962, and it was occupied by NASA in January 1963. Complex 37 supported eight Saturn I and Saturn IB missions, including the first flight of an unmanned Apollo lunar module, between 29 January 1964 and 23 January 1968. Complexes 34 and 37 were mothballed in November 1971, and their service structures were scrapped in April 1972. NASA retained control of both complexes, and both sites became NASA tour stops. More...

Advanced Orion Chronology


1995 May 14 - . 13:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan Centaur 401A. LV Configuration: Titan 401A/Centaur K-23/TC-17 (45E-8).
  • USA 110 - . Payload: Advanced Orion 1. Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Orion. USAF Sat Cat: 23567 . COSPAR: 1995-022A. Apogee: 35,787 km (22,236 mi). Perigee: 35,787 km (22,236 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Summary: First launch of 'Advanced Orion' (real code name unknown) new model geostationary ELINT satellite..

1998 May 9 - . 01:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan Centaur 401B. LV Configuration: Titan 401B/Centaur 4B-25/TC-18 (K-25).
  • USA 139 - . Payload: Advanced Orion 2. Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; NSA. Manufacturer: El Segundo. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Orion. USAF Sat Cat: 25336 . COSPAR: 1998-029A. Apogee: 35,800 km (22,200 mi). Perigee: 35,780 km (22,230 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg.

2003 September 9 - . 04:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. Launch Pad: SLC40. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan Centaur 401B. LV Configuration: Titan 401B/Centaur 4B-36/TC-20.
  • USA 171 - . Payload: NROL-19. Mass: 5,200 kg (11,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Orion. USAF Sat Cat: 27937 . COSPAR: 2003-041A. American signals intelligence satellite placed into geostationary orbit. It was believed the payload was a successor to the USA-110 and USA-139 satellites launched in May 1995 and May 1998, referred to as 'Advanced ORION' by those not in the know. They were thought to be successors to the RHYOLITE missions of the 1970s. The satellite was originally to have launched April 28, 2002. Launch delayed seven times.

2009 January 18 - . 02:47 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC37B. Launch Pad: SLC37B. LV Family: Delta IV. Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy.
  • USA 202 - . Payload: NROL-26. Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Orion. USAF Sat Cat: 33490 . COSPAR: 2009-001A. Apogee: 38,077 km (23,659 mi). Perigee: 35,943 km (22,333 mi). Inclination: 3.0000 deg. Period: 1,440.00 min. Summary: Classified signals intelligence satellite. It was speculated that it was a large-antenna spacecraft with the same mission as earlier Rhyolite, Aquacade, Magnum, and Orion missions..

2010 November 21 - . 22:58 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC37B. Launch Pad: SLC37B. LV Family: Delta IV. Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy.
  • USA 223 - . Payload: NROL-32. Nation: USA. Class: Military. Type: Electronic intelligence satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Orion. USAF Sat Cat: 37232 . COSPAR: 2010-063A. Apogee: 35,800 km (22,200 mi). Perigee: 35,800 km (22,200 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.00 min. Summary: Probable geosynchronous signals intelligence satellite..

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