Israel's Defense Ministry receives first images from Ofek 16 satellite

Satellite, launched last week, is expected to monitor threats facing Israel

THE OFEK 16 satellite is shot into space from a site in center of the country on Monday. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
THE OFEK 16 satellite is shot into space from a site in center of the country on Monday.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
A week after Israel launched the Ofek 16 reconnaissance satellite into space, the first high-quality pictures have been received at an Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) control station in Yehud, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.
Since the satellite launch early Monday morning from Palmahim airbase in central Israel, teams from IAI and the Defense Ministry have carried out a series of tests on the satellite’s systems and subsystems that have been gradually and successfully activated.
Upon completion of the process, the satellite’s camera was also activated successfully.
In the coming weeks engineering teams will complete  “the rigorous testing process” and prepare the satellite for operational use, the ministry said.
Head of the Space and Satellite Administration in Israel’s Defense Ministry, Amnon Harari said it was “the most significant milestones since the launch. The images we received from the satellite are of excellent quality.”
The Ofek 16 carries Elbit’s electro-optic, high-resolution camera which can photograph with each shot at a resolution of 50 cm. from an altitude of 600 km.
Harari added that engineers will continue with the process of transferring the satellite to operational use, “anticipating that over the years, the system will provide great intelligence to the defense establishment.”
The Space Administration in the Israel Ministry of Defense led the development and production of the satellite and the launcher. IAI is the prime contractor, having assigned the program to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group, together with the MLM division, which is responsible for the development of the launcher.
The satellite’s payload was developed by Elbit Systems. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Systems and Tomer, a government-owned defense company. Additional companies have participated in this program, including Rokar and Cielo, and various IDF officials from the Intelligence Corps and Air Force have also been deeply involved in the satellite’s development process.
Once operational, the IDF’s 9900 Intelligence Unit will be responsible for the Ofek 16 satellite, and like other reconnaissance satellites launched by Israel, it will be used to monitor threats facing the State of Israel.
Boaz Levy, General Manager and Executive VP of IAI’s Missiles & Space Group, said that the first images were a “landmark achievement – the result of a complex technological and operational process that reflects IAI’s capabilities in the field of space, and also highlights our partnership with other defense industries. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, IAI will continue to advance Israel’s space program towards further operational achievements."
The State of Israel was the seventh country in the world to achieve full space capabilities and is one of 13 countries in the world capable of launching satellites, alongside the United States, Italy, France, Japan, India, the UK, Ukraine, China, Russia, Iran, as well as North and South Korea.