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The Israel Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries Have Successfully Launched the "Ofek 16" Satellite – Which Has Begun its Orbit in Space

 

Defense Minister, Benny Gantz: "This is another extraordinary achievement for the defense establishment, for the defense industries as a whole, and for Israel Aerospace Industries in particular."

The Space Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), of the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), have successfully launched the "Ofek 16" reconnaissance satellite into space, today (06.07.2020) at 4:00 AM. The launch was performed from a launch site based in central Israel, using a "Shavit" launcher.

The satellite began to orbit around earth and to transmit data, in accordance with original launch plans. IMoD and IAI engineers have started a series of pre-planned tests to determine the propriety and performance level of the satellite before it begins its full operational activities.

Defense Minister, Benny Gantz: "The successful launch of the 'Ofek 16' satellite overnight is yet another extraordinary achievement for the defense establishment, for the defense industries as a whole, and for Israel Aerospace Industries in particular. Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel. The fact that Israel is one of the 13 countries in the world with satellite launching capabilities is not a given, and was made possible by the people who have been investing in these systems and advancing breakthrough capabilities over the years. We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel's capabilities on every front, in every place." 

"Ofek 16" is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities. Its development was enabled by the great experience gained by the defense establishment in the production of earlier satellites in the Ofek series, which have been produced and launched since the year 1988. The satellite was launched into space using the "Shavit" launcher.

The Space Administration in IMoD has led the development and production of the satellite and its 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. Elbit Systems is responsible for the development and production of the satellite's advanced camera and payload. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company. Additional companies have participated in the program, including Rokar and Cielo.

The Director of Security for the Defense Establishment oversaw the security arrangements of the program. Lastly, various IDF officials, primarily from the Intelligence Corps and Air Force have also been deeply involved in the satellite development process. Once the satellite is deemed fully operational, the Ministry of Defense will deliver responsibilities to the IDF's '9900' Intelligence Unit.

 

The Space Program of the Israel Ministry of Defense: Over 30 Years of "Defense in Space"

 

The Israel Ministry of Defense invests hundreds of millions of shekels every year in developing the space and satellite industries. The multi-year space program led by the Israel Ministry of Defense advances the strategic capabilities of the State of Israel, while strengthening Israeli high-tech and creating vast job opportunities. 

The first Israeli satellite (Ofek 1), was launched in the year 1988. In the years following this success, the Ministry of Defense has allocated significant budgets in the field of satellite development. 

The satellite program significantly enhances the intelligence capabilities of the State of Israel, due to the groundbreaking technology and capabilities developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and additional partner industries. 

The satellite industry in Israel and around the world, fuels the production of new, advanced technology.  Investment in this field produces first and foremost, strategic defense systems, but also technological innovation and solutions that assist industries in coping with various technological obstacles. This is because technology in the field of satellites must constantly push boundaries – combining advanced programing, algorithms, engineering, and systems that must persevere in the challenging conditions that space launches and space operations include (issues surrounding durability, strength versus weight, and more). 

The State of Israel was the seventh country in the world to achieve full space capabilities (launching satellites), and today, Israel is one of 13 countries in the world with such capabilities, alongside the United States, Italy, France, Japan, India, the U.K., Ukraine, China, Russia, Iran, North and South Korea. 

 

The investment of the State of Israel in space technology is considered essential and strategic for intelligence purposes. This is a multi-year investment, which requires a multitude of resources, consistency, and professionalism. The goal is to ensure that the Israeli satellite program will remain at the forefront of technological capabilities and will continue to produce advanced satellites, which will maintain Israel's intelligence and technological superiority. 

The investment of the Ministry of Defense in the field of space technology contributes to the advanced capabilities of the State of Israel.  At the same time, it also contributes to the integration of advanced technology and capabilities in civilian industries and the high-tech sector.