Israel, 11 June 2007: The defense establishment successfully launched the Ofek-7 intelligence satellite on June 11. Professor Haim Eshed, Head of the Defense Ministry’s Space Program, personally supervised the launch. Ofek-7 is currently in orbit. Israel is expected to begin receiving images within 48 to 72 hours.
The successful launch of Ofek-7 is particularly significant for Israel in providing better intelligence, particularly with regards to Iran., following the failed attempt at launching its predecessor, Ofek-6 in October 2004, which plummeted to the sea.
While refusing to divulge the performance levels of the new satellite, defense officials said that it was by far the most advanced satellite Israel has launched into space. Officials said that it was superior to the Eros B satellite – launched in April 2006 – which has the ability to spot images on the ground as small as 70 centimeters. The officials refused to divulge what made it superior
“With this launch we have improved Israel’s operational capabilities by dozens of percent,” said Brig.-Gen. Haim Eshet, director of Space Programming at the MOD’s Research and Development Directorate (MAFAT). “This is due to the improvements made to the satellite and also since we now have better coverage in the skies.”
The new satellite is expected to circle the earth every 90 minutes, and should remain in orbit for a minimum of four years, and a maximum of six. It is equipped with various advanced components, such as a GPS system, a central computer, a gas tank, and a telescope.