Israel launches new Ofek-13 spy satellite into orbit
The army successfully launched the “Ofek-13” spy satellite into space early Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Defense said.
The satellite, the latest in a line of Israeli observation assets in space, will provide the military with better quality images than before.
“The Ofek-13 is an observation satellite with advanced capabilities,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement after the launch.
“After entering Earth’s orbit the satellite will undergo a series of checks to verify [structural] integrity and level of performance,” the statement said.
The Shavit launch vehicle shot the satellite into space from the center of the country in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning.
Residents of the area around the launch reported hearing the satellite blast into space.
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The Department of Space of the Ministry of Defense was in charge of the development and production of the satellite, with developments involving various IDF bodies, including the Visual Intelligence Unit 9900 and the air force.
Israel Aerospace Industries was the main contractor involved in the project. The launch engines were manufactured by Israel’s Tomer and Rafael defense companies.
Israel launched its first satellite, Ofek-1, into space in 1988. It was not until seven years later, in 1995, that Israel launched a reconnaissance satellite into space capable of taking photographs of the Earth.
The Ofek-16 was launched into space in July 2020, and won Israel’s top security award last year.
The satellites are operated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence of the IDF.
Israel is one of the few countries in the world that operates reconnaissance satellites, giving it a high intelligence-gathering capability. As of 2020, that cadre included Iran, which successfully launched a spy satellite into orbit after years of failed attempts.