Israel Successfully Launch New Spy Satellite Into Orbit

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Israel successfully launch new spy satellite into orbit

Israel launched a new spy satellite into orbit from a launchpad in the center of the country early Monday morning, the Defense Ministry said.

“The Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries successfully launched into space the reconnaissance satellite ‘Ofek 16,’ which entered into its orbit,” the ministry said in a statement.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz hailed the launch of the Ofek-16 satellite as a “mighty achievement for the defense establishment, the defense industries in general and Israel Aerospace Industries in particular.”

Israel is one of a small number of countries in the world that operate reconnaissance satellites, giving it advanced intelligence-gathering capabilities. As of April, this cadre included Iran, which successfully launched a spy satellite into orbit after years of failed attempts.

“Our network of satellites lets us watch the entire Middle East — and even a bit more than that,” said Shlomi Sudari, the head of IAI’s space program.

The reconnaissance satellite was fired into space at 4 a.m. using a Shavit launch vehicle that took off from a launchpad in the Palmachim air base in central Israel, the ministry said.

The Ofek-16 is an “optoelectronic reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities,” the ministry said. It is the latest satellite in the Ofek series to be launched into space, following the Ofek-11, which entered orbit in 2016.

According to Sudari, the Ofek-16 is the “brother” of the Ofek-11, containing many of the same capabilities, along with a few “light improvements, in terms of precision.” Defense Ministry officials refused to comment on the jump in the name, from Ofek-11 to Ofek-16.

“The Ofek-16 is highly advanced, including breakthrough ‘blue and white’ technology that serves our defense interests,” Sudari said, using a term that refers to the colors of the Israeli flag to signify domestically produced capabilities.

READ ALSO: Train crushes 21 pilgrims to death in Pakistan

Though the main function of the new spy satellite will likely be monitoring Iran and developments in its nuclear and missile programs, defense officials denied any symbolism in conducting the launch amid growing reports that Israel was responsible for a number of recent explosions in the Islamic Republic, including one at a uranium enrichment facility and another at a missile production plant.

“The timing was planned far in advance,” Sudari said.

Sudari said the Ofek-16 would operate on a low-Earth orbit, similar to the other Ofek satellites.

“Under the original launch plan, the [Ofek-16] satellite entered orbit around the Earth and began to beam back data,” the Defense Ministry said early on Monday.

Source: Ghana News

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