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Israel: First Ofek 16 satellite images of Syria revealed

In preparation for the beginning of the Ofek 16 satellite’s operational activity: The Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries published images taken by the satellite over Syria Tuesday.

On this occasion, the Space Administration of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), in the Israel Ministry of Defense, is also revealing the national infrastructure for the production of space cameras. This infrastructure is shared by the Ministry of Defense and Elbit Systems.

Defense Minister, Benny Gantz stated: “The State of Israel knows how to defend against its enemies both near and far, as well as to protect its citizens everywhere, from any given location. The technological means we develop in the Ministry of Defense together with our industries, are effective and significant tools in maintaining Israel’s security. We will continue to work and promote Israel’s technological advance and edge, an element that is essential in contending with the many challenges we face.”

The engineering teams of the DDR&D and IAI are continuing their work in preparing the Ofek 16 satellite for operational use.

For the first time, the Ministry of Defense is releasing images taken by the satellite in recent days. These images were taken over Syria and show the ‘Tadmor’ world heritage site, ancient ruins and the renowned Roman theater.

Ofek 16, which was successfully launched into space last month, is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities.

It is equipped with a high-quality camera developed and manufactured by Elbit Systems. The camera has the best performance and weight characteristics available on the market.

Hundreds of millions of shekels were invested in the national infrastructure for the production of space cameras. Shared by the Ministry of Defense and Elbit Systems, it includes labs for the production of lenses and mirrors, as well as a vacuum chamber that simulates the conditions in space, and that is used to test the satellite camera before it is launched for its mission.

In the near future, and upon the completion of the ‘in orbit testing’ process led by the DDR&D, IAI, and the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate, the Ministry of Defense will transfer the satellite to IDF Unit 9900 for operational use.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Notes:

Ofek-16 was launched on 6 July 2020 at 04:00 local time (01:00 UTC) from Palmachim Airbase in central Israel by a Shavit 2 rocket, and deployed into low Earth orbit. Shortly after launch, Ofek-16 began orbiting Earth and transmitting data.

Ofek-16 is equipped with an improved version of Elbit Systems’ “Jupiter Space” camera, compared to the one present on the OPTSAT-3000 satellite.

It has “high spectral resolution” of up to 50 centimetres from a height of 600 kilometres. It can photograph 15 square kilometres in a single shot.

With Ofek-16, Israel can observe the whole Middle East and other regions with great precision.

No notice was made public ahead of launch. The first announcement came from the Ministry of Defence via Twitter, about an hour and a half after liftoff, confirming that Ofek 16 had been deployed successfully into orbit. Although many details of the spacecraft and its planned operations have been kept secret, the Israeli government has been upfront about the military nature of the mission – with the launch announcement confirming its role as a reconnaissance satellite and a later one identifying it as an “electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities”. Images and videos have since been released showing the spacecraft and its carrier rocket being prepared for launch.

Israel is not known to have attempted any satellite launches between Ofek 11 and 16.

It is not clear whether the “Ofek 12” through 15 designations have been skipped, or applied to other spacecraft.