(photo credit: IAI)
Israeli space capabilities will take a giant leap this week when an Indian missile launches the IDF's most-advanced satellite to date, capable of transmitting tiny images in all weather conditions.
The takeoff from India follow's June launch of the Ofek-7 spy satellite. The satellite to be placed in orbit this week is called Tecsar and was developed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries. It will be the first Israeli satellite with Synthetic Aperture Radar capabilities, allowing the camera to take pictures of targets under cloudy and foggy conditions, a capability not available in Israel's Ofek satellite series.
Weighing just under 300 kilograms, the Tecsar, was developed by the IAI's Space Division MBT. The Ofek 7 is a camera-based satellite while Tecsar is capable of creating high-resolution images using advanced radar technology. The Synthetic Aperture Radar technology was developed by IAI's Elta subsidiary.
This will be the first time that Israel is launching a satellite aboard an Indian missile. The decision to launch the missile from India was reached three years ago during a visit there by then-Defense ministry director-general Amos Yaron.
While declining to reveal the new satellite's performance levels, officials said it would be Israel's most advanced satellite by far. In addition to the Ofek 7 and Eros B, and the Amos 1 and 2 (both communication satellites), Israel currently operates the Ofek 5 spy satellite, launched in May 2002. IAI plans to launch the Amos 3 in the coming months.
"Israel has technological defense capability of the first order," President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday after visiting Elta, a division of Israel Aerospace Industries, which Peres helped to found in 1953, when he was director-general of the Defense Ministry.
At the tail-end of a daylong visit to Ashdod as a guest of Mayor Zvi Zilker, Peres was afforded a closed door inspection of state-of-the-art equipment at Elta.
IAI employs around 25,000 people. Peres said its contribution to both national security and to the economy were inestimable. Elta's sales so far this year are in excess of $3 billion.
Peres said that he would like every Israeli to know "that we have the best and most talented people in the world and we should be proud of their wonderful abilities."
While hailing the quality of Israel's defense capabilities, Peres made it clear that the Jewish state was interested in peace, not war.
Earlier in the day, when meeting with school children, religious and secular authorities and other residents of the city, Peres recalled having first come there with David Ben-Gurion, when there was little else but sand.
Today, Ashdod is a thriving city with a population of around 225,000 representing the ingathering of the exiles, Peres said.