Spy satellite Ofek-7 launched successfully
Defense establishment successfully launches new intelligence satellite from Palmahim Base; Israel expected to receive first images from space within 48 hours. 'Satellite has advanced capabilities which will significantly improve Israel's operational and intelligence abilities,' senior security source says
The defense establishment successfully launched the Ofek-7 intelligence satellite early Monday morning. Professor Haim Eshed, head of the Defense Ministry’s Space Program, personally supervised the launch.
Ofek-7 was launched at precisely 2:40 am and is currently in orbit. A comprehensive test of its systems will be carried out in the coming hours. Israel is expected to begin receiving images within 48 to 72 hours.
The new satellite is expected to provide Israel with better intelligence, particularly with regards to Iran.
“The satellite has advanced abilities, which along with other satellites already in space, will drastically improve Israel’s operational and intelligence capabilities,” said a senior security source.
The successful launch of Ofek-7 is particularly significant for Israel, following the failed attempt at launching its predecessor, Ofek-6 in October 2004, which plummeted to the sea.
“We ran a series of extensive tests, and verified intactness and performance levels so that there wouldn’t be any mishaps,” the senior security source explained.
According to him, the design fault that led to the failed launch of Ofek-6, was studied fully, and its lessons implemented in the design of Ofek-7.
The new satellite is expected to circle the earth every 90 minutes, and should remain in orbit for a minimum of four years, and a maximum of six. It is equipped with various advanced components, such as a GPS system, a central computer, a gas tank, and a telescope.
'A day of pride for us all'
"We are very proud. People have been stressed for a long time and the price of an error here is very big. So it was important for everything to run like clockwork," Brigadier-General Dr Kobi Bortman, head of the Air Force's equipment squadron, said Monday afternoon.
Defense establishment officials were very excited over the successful launching.
"This is a very important event," said Brig-Gen Bortman. "As far as we are concerned, when we sat Air Force and space, both things together are important. We see the launching and the activity accompanying it as part of a complete activity. Today is a day of pride for us all."
Bortman added that so far the launching was "looking good" and that "we have been preparing for months and years, with a very small gap between success and failure."
Addressing the improvements in Ofek-7, Bortman said, "I am convinced that it is better than Ofek-5. It should be supplying better images. The lessons of Ofek-5 were implemented in Ofek-7. It includes the best technology, and the best scientists worked on it. The goal is to receive imaged from the satellite for four years."
Dr Bortman noted that the satellite would be evaluated for the first time after 48 hours.
"This is an achievement in any standard… The launching of Ofek-7 improves the State of Israel's capabilities and significantly contributes to the State's security," he said.
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report