Ofek 9 launched to space
Photo courtesy of Israel Aerospace Industries

Experts: Ofek 9 will detect Iranian activity

Following successful launch of spy satellite, chairman of Israel Space Agency tells Ynet no country will be able to conduct secret operations in Middle East

The chairman of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) says the new Ofek 9 spy satellite will be able to detect any material transferred by the Iranians.


Experts explain that Israeli satellite, which was successfully launched Tuesday evening, will be able to broadcast images from around the world within days. Its abilities, they say, are much higher than what has been cleared for publication.


"With Ofek 9, Israel now has about 10 satellites working in a joint system – a commercial amount," ISA Chairman Isaac Ben-Israel told Ynet on Wednesday night. "One of them completes a round every 90 minutes, then the second one comes along, then the third one, and so on. At a given moment, there is not one place which interests us in the Middle East and is not being shot.


"In fact, a country will not be able to conduct any secret operations in the Middle East without the area being covered by one of our satellites, as there are no longer such moments. Iran won't be able to transfer different materials without us noticing," Ben-Israel explained.


The satellite, he said, was has been launched to a spot located 40 degrees north and south of the Equator, focusing on the Middle East and the southern half of the globe, "so that we can basically air all the World Cup games from South Africa."


Ben-Israel explained that although the official publications talk about 70-centimeter (2-feet) objects which can be seen, in practice the abilities are much higher and the satellite can even detect objects carrying people.


'Only US comes before Israel'

"There are satellites with optic cameras, and Ofek 9 has a radar camera which can see beyond clouds and networks," Ben-Israel explained. He noted that the satellite, which would likely be launched next year, will be able to provide some answers on the Iranian nuclear facility in Bushehr.


"There are seven independent countries in space, and in terms of quality and technology only the United States comes before Israel," he said.


Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, says Ofek 9 would be used by Israel for many years.


"Satellites of this type can live 10 years," he said. "Ofek 5, for example, has been in space since 2002. A lot of it depends on the satellite's altitude above the earth, but all the Israeli satellites work better and live more than planned."


Inbar said the new satellite was a case of Israeli pride. "Ofek 9 was built in Israel and all of its components were made in Israel. It was built in the Israel Aerospace Industries and the camera was made by an Israeli company.


"Within days, after the camera is calibrated and checked, we will be able to watch images from the new satellite. Every such satellite is another step towards a situation in which we can watch anywhere, anytime."


פרסום ראשון: 06.24.10, 00:53
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