(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY/IAI)
The Defense Ministry and Israeli Aircraft Industries launched a spy satellite into orbit from Palmahim Air Base on Wednesday night.
The satellite, called Ofek 10, uses radar systems for observation.
It was carried into space by a Shavit (“Comet”) launch vehicle.
It soon entered orbit, and is scheduled to undergo a series of checks to ensure that key functions are working correctly.
The SAR (Synthetic aperture radar) satellite has advanced day and night photography capabilities, and will work in all weather conditions, the Defense Ministry said.
The launch was jointly carried out by IAI and the Defense Ministry’s Space Administration, which is a part of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.
Israel maintains an extensive spy satellite program, which has seen the Defense Ministry invest hundreds of millions of shekels a year in space development and the satellite industry.
Defense officials said the program significantly upgrades the nation’s strategic capabilities, and strengthens the hi-tech sector. The first Israeli military satellite, Ofek 1, went into space in 1988.
Israel is one of 12 countries able to produce and launch its own satellites.
It takes an average of eight years to develop each new satellite.