Israel Launches OFEK 16 Spy Satellite

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 (6.07.2020), at 4:00 AM. The launch was performed from the Palmachim Airbase in Israel, a launch site based south of Tel Aviv in central Israel, using a “Shavit” launcher.

“Ofek 16” is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities. During the initial period of operation, the satellite will undergo a series of tests to determine its propriety and performance level.

The new satellite follows the deployment of Ofek 11 satellite by four years. The launch of Ofek 11 on 13 September 2016 was the most recent in the family. The first operational satellite in the family, Ofek 3 was launched on 5 April 2005. Its planned successor, Ofek 4 failed to reach orbit, but Ofek 5, launched on 22 May 2002 successfully deployed in orbit and continues to operate today. The iMOD announcement did not explain the whereabouts of Ofek 12 through 15.

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The Space Administration in the Israel Ministry of Defense has 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, utilizing IAI’s Opsat platform. Together with the MLM division, which is responsible for the development of the Shavit-2 advanced satellite 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.

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