Israel boosts space presence: The defense establishment launched another spy satellite to space Tuesday evening, thereby boosting Israel's intelligence-gatherings capabilities, mostly at distant theaters.
The latest satellite, Ofek 9, will be the sixth one to be deployed simultaneously.
"When we wish to examine targets, we need our own satellites to do the job," a senior defense official said. "The new satellite will enable us to perform frequent activity at higher resolution."
The satellite was launched from the Palmachim Air Force base in central Israel, in line with a pre-determined plan unrelated to recent developments, officials said.
The Defense Ministry issued an official statement, saying that the Ofek 9 satellite "was launched and successfully injected into orbit by means of a Shavit satellite launcher."
"In the next phase, the satellite will undergo several tests for validation of its serviceability and satisfactory performance," the statement said, noting that Ofek 9 is an "advanced technology remote sensing satellite."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised Israel's defense industries and security establishment officials following the launch.
"The launch today is a technological and operational achievement; few states, especially states the size of Israel, are capable of handling such a complex challenge," he said. "The success of the launch is an expression of the valor, thinking, and extensive abilities of the defense industries and security establishment in Israel.
A security source said that the launch of Ofek 9 further boosts Israel's intelligence capabilities, as the Jewish State now has several satellites deployed in space, thereby considerably improving the results of its efforts.
Previous Israeli satellites were launched in January 2008, in June 2007, and in May 2002. In September 2004, the launched of Ofek 6 failed.
The new satellite is expected to join Israeli efforts related to Iran and other states in the region. Despite the Israeli success on this front, officials prefer to maintain a low key attitude and not say much about the accomplishments achieved thus far.
However, officials are supporting a proposal to earmark another $300 million in the next five years in order to continue developing similar means.