"Israel successfully launches Ofek 16 spy satellite into space

Jul 06, 2020

National
"Israel successfully launches Ofek 16 spy satellite into space

Jerusalem (Israel) July 6: Israel launched the new Ofek 16 spy satellite into orbit from a launchpad at Palmachim airbase in central Israel early Monday morning, the Defense Ministry announced.
"The Space Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), of the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), have successfully launched the "Ofek 16" reconnaissance satellite into space, today at 4:00 AM," the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The launch was performed using a "Shavit" launcher.
The "Ofek 16" is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities and was the first launch of an Israeli satellite since Spacecom's Amos-17 took off from Florida in 2017.
Israel's satellite program which has been active since 1988 "significantly enhances the intelligence capabilities of the State of Israel, due to the groundbreaking technology and capabilities developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and additional partner industries," the ministry said.
Defense Minister, Benny Gantz hailed the successful launch saying that it's "another extraordinary achievement for the defense establishment, for the defense industries as a whole, and for Israel Aerospace Industries in particular and that "technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel."
"We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel's capabilities on every front, in every place," Gantz added.
The Space Administration in the Israel Ministry of Defense has led the development and production of the satellite and the launcher. IAI is the prime contractor, having assigned the program to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group, together with the MLM division, which is responsible for the development of the launcher.
The satellite's payload was developed by Elbit Systems. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Systems and Tomer, a government-owned defense company. Additional companies have participated in this program, including Rokar and Cielo, and various IDF officials from the Intelligence Corps and Air Force have also been deeply involved in the satellite development process.
Following the launch, the satellite began to orbit around the earth and to transmit data. IMoD and IAI engineers have started a series of pre-planned tests to determine the propriety and performance level of the satellite before it begins its full operational activities.
Once operational, the IDF's 9900 Intelligence Unit will be responsible for the Ofek 16 satellite.
Head of the Space and Satellite Administration in the Israel Ministry of Defense, Amnon Harari told reporters that the earth observing satellite will be "used to monitor threats facing the State of Israel which require constant monitoring."
According to Harari, Iran's space program is "a threat that we have to monitor" despite the failures they've had in recent years.
"Iran is investing a lot into building its space power and program," he said. "The effort is there and we should assume that eventually, they will reach a significant level in this area. Although to achieve technology like Ofek 16 will take a long time, its a threat we have to monitor."
The satellite, which is sending engineers messages of proper functioning will join other satellites already keeping tabs on Iran and other adversaries. While Ofek 16 is similar to Ofek 11 in terms of capabilities, there have been precise improvements that will give maximum operational output.
The first pictures from the satellite are expected to be sent to earth next week.
Israel's Defense Ministry invests hundreds of millions of shekels every year in developing the space and satellite industries. The multi-year space program not only strengthens Israel's high-tech industry and creates thousands of jobs, but it also advances the strategic capabilities of the country.
While investment in this field focuses on strategic defense systems, the satellite industry fuels technological innovations and solutions as satellite technology constantly pushes boundaries by combining advanced engineering and challenging conditions that space launches and operations include.
The State of Israel was the seventh country in the world to achieve full space capabilities and is one of 13 countries in the world capable of launching satellites, alongside the United States, Italy, France, Japan, India, the U.K., Ukraine, China, Russia, Iran, as well as North and South Korea.
Source: Jerusalem Post