A military reconnaissance satellite “Ofek 9”, designed and built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was successfully launched on June 22nd 2010 from the “Palmahim” Air base. Upon entering its orbit, the control over the satellite was handed over to IDF Intelligence Unit
Yuval Shoham | Translation: Nikolai Avrutov
“Ofek 9” joins seven other Israeli satellites presently in orbit above earth. Two of them are earlier models of the Ofek family of reconnaissance satellites (Ofek 5 and 7). “Ofek 9” is similar in its abilities to the earlier models; however it is thought to be able to monitor a wider area on earth.
The launch began at 22:00. A flaming burst of fire painted the black skies in bright orange colors and the launcher rocket began its assent to space bringing the satellite to its orbit. The exact launch date was kept secret until the very last moment. But now, no one could hide the magnificent ball of fire going up in the sky. A group of soldiers at the air base gathered to witness the impressive spectacle.
“The launch of the satellite is an event of national importance”, says Lt. Col. Boaz, head of the experimental missiles unit. “This project required a great deal of cooperation between several agencies, and it was of extremely complex. Israel belongs to an exclusive club of countries that know how to produce and launch satellites, and we are at a very advanced place in this club. I take my hat off before the Israeli Aerospace Industry. There is a great deal of tension and Adrenalin in the last pre-launch hours. Only after the satellite is in its orbit can we relax. There were so many people involved in this project; it is a truly Israeli source of pride!”.
Shortly after entering its orbit, the satellite transmitted its first images. The camera on board was manufactured by “Elbit Systems Ltd” (one of the world’s largest defence electronics manufacturer and integrator), and is thought to be highly advanced, with superb resolution capabilities.