The Ofek 10 spy satellite, sent into space from Palmahim Air Base on Wednesday night, has successfully entered its orbit and is communicating with a ground station, defense officials said on Thursday.
Amnon Harari, head of the Defense Ministry’s Space Administration, said the launch had gone according to plan perfectly thus far.
He added that Israeli intelligence has access to an array of satellites, giving it the ability to receive a continuous picture of any target.
The satellite is highly flexible in its ability to maneuver in space, allowing it to gather intelligence on many targets “in interesting places,” Harari said.
Ofer Doron, manager of the IAI’s Mabat Division, which develops space systems, said the satellite has “an incredible ability to take photographs, and it is very small.” The Ofek 10 can provide very precise, high quality images under all conditions, he added.
The satellite circles the Earth every 90 minutes, Doron said.
“There were dozens of engineers and Intelligence Corps people who sat opposite screens late last night, receiving the satellite’s signals and giving it a few instruction,” he continued.
Ninety minutes after launch, the Ofek 10 got in touch with a ground station, Doron said. “It carried out a complex series of autonomous operations designed to place it in orbit. We are beginning a procedure that will last a number of months, in which we will carry out a number of checks, at the end of which, it will go into operational service.”
The satellite’s acceleration wheels enable it to maneuver over countries, and its radar sensors take high quality images of a target, before moving on to the next area of interest, the officials said. The end result is a high resolution image that looks like an optical photo but is entirely generated by data from the radar, they added.
“The successful launch of Ofek 10 is another testimony to the impressive ability of the State of Israel to develop and lead on the technological front,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Wednesday.
“The Ofek 10 satellite is meant to improve the state of Israel’s intelligence capabilities, and allow the defense establishment to better deal with threats that are near and far, at any time of the day, and in all types of weather,” he continued. “This is how we continue to consolidate our enormous qualitative and technological edge over our neighbors.”