Defense Ministry, IAI hand keys of Ofek 16 satellite to IDF's Unit 9900

Advanced satellite was launched into space in July

Israel successfully launches Ofek 16 spy satellite into space (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israel successfully launches Ofek 16 spy satellite into space
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Three months after its launch, the Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Sunday transferred operational control of the Ofek 16 spy satellite to the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 9900.
Over the course of the three months following its launch, the engineering teams of the Space Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), of the Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), completed the satellite’s pre-planned testing process and its preparations for operational use.
The hand-over ceremony was held in an IAI control station with the Head of the Space and Satellite Administration in IMoD, Amnon Harrari, IAI EVP and General Manager of the Systems, Missiles and Space Group, Boaz Levy, and IAI Space Division GM, Shlomi Sudri, in attendance.
The Defense Ministry’s Space Administration led the development and production of the satellite and the launcher. IAI was the prime contractor, and Elbit Systems developed and built the advanced camera and payload.
Elbit Systems is responsible for the development and production of the satellite's advanced camera and payload. TThe launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company. Additional firms that participated in the program included Rokar and Cielo. Lastly, various IDF officials, primarily from the Intelligence Corps and Air Force have also been involved in the satellite development process.
The Ofek 16 carries Elbit’s electro-optic, high-resolution camera that operates from a height of 600 km. It can capture an area of 15 sq. km. in a single frame down to a resolution of 50 cm.
According to the Defense Ministry, hundreds of millions of shekels have been invested together with Elbit Systems to produce extremely high-precision space cameras at labs that make the lenses and mirrors, and a special vacuum chamber that simulates conditions in space for testing the camera before launch.
During the testing period in orbit, the satellite successfully transmitted images, including from over the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, close to where Iranian forces are known to operate. Pictures released show the ancient ruins of the Tadmor World Heritage Site and its renowned Roman amphitheater.
Like previous reconnaissance satellites that Israel has launched since 1988, Ofek 16 will be used to monitor potential security threats.