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In the face of Iran's race to obtain nuclear weapons and predictions that war with Syria is on the horizon, Israel strengthened its foothold in space pre-dawn Monday and successfully launched a spy satellite, which defense officials said granted the IDF unprecedented operational capabilities.
The satellite, called Ofek 7, was launched from the Palmahim Air Force Base and successfully reached orbit. Officials said however that it would take several days to test the satellite's systems before it would be declared operational. The satellite was launched atop a Shavit missile.
The successful launch came as a great relief for the defense establishment and particularly Israel Aerospace Industries, lead contractor of the Ofek project.
In September 2004, Israel failed to successfully launch the Ofek 6, which in its third boost stage plummeted to the sea. At the time, despite the disappointment, the Defense Ministry continued ahead with its development of the Ofek 7.