Report: US halted launch of Israeli satellite

Indian paper claims that "last minute" American pressure led to months of postponement.

By
December 4, 2007 00:36
1 minute read.
Report: US halted launch of Israeli satellite

TecSat satellite 224.88. (photo credit: IAI)

 
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The September launch of an Israeli spy satellite from India, which now faces months of postponements, was canceled due to "last-minute" pressure by the United States, the Indian press reported Monday. The TecSar satellite - developed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) - initially was supposed to be launched in September, on the heels of the June launch of the Ofek 7 spy satellite. It is the first Israeli satellite with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities, a technology that allows the camera to take pictures of targets in all weather conditions. Weighing just under 300 kilograms, the TecSar was developed by the IAI's Space Division MBT and has the ability to create images of objects on Earth even in cloudy weather conditions, a capability not available in Israel's Ofek satellite series. The Ofek 7 is a camera-based satellite, while TecSar is capable of creating high-resolution images using advanced radar technology. In an article published in Monday's Daily News and Analysis, the Indian paper quoted sources who said US government pressure was responsible for calling off the launch of the satellite, which already had been mounted on the space-bound missile launcher. The paper hinted that the reason for the American pressure was to prevent India from obtaining powerful military platforms. Earlier this year, the paper said, the US curtailed Indian plans to develop missiles with a 5,000-kilometer range and advised it to only manufacture missiles with a range of 800 km. Should it occur, it would be the first time Israel launches 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. It is part of growing Indian-Israeli cooperation, which is scheduled to eventually lead to the launching of two more satellites. Once in space, officials said, the TecSar would be by far the most advanced Israeli satellite. In addition to the Ofek 7, Eros B and the Amos 1 and 2 (both communication satellites), Israel operates the Ofek 5 spy satellite, successfully launched in May 2002. IAI plans to launch the Amos 3 in the coming months. The Defense Ministry refused to comment on the report, but expressed confidence the satellite would be launched in the near future.

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