Israel’s MoD and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have received the first images from the OFEK 16 satellite, launched just a week ago on 6 July.
High quality images resulting from operating the satellite’s observation camera for the first time were received overnight at an IA control station in Yehud, central Israel. Camera activation came after a series of pre-planned tests, during which all the satellite’s systems and subsystems were activated in a gradual and controlled manner. In the coming weeks, engineering teams will complete the rigorous tests, and prepare the satellite for operational use.
Head of the Space and Satellite Administration in the MoD, Amnon Harari, commented "This is the most significant milestone since the launch of the OFEK 16 satellite. The images we received from the satellite are of excellent quality. We will continue the orderly process of transferring the satellite to operational use, anticipating that over the years, the system will provide great intelligence to the defence establishment.”
IAI EVP and General Manager of its Systems, Missiles and Space Group, Boaz Levy, added “This is a landmark achievement – the result of a complex technological and operational process that reflects IAI’s capabilities in the field of space, and also highlights our partnership with other defense industries. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, IAI will continue to advance Israel’s space program towards further operational achievements.”
The satellite is an electro-optical observation satellite with advanced capabilities, equipped with a high-quality camera developed and manufactured by Elbit Systems. Following completion of the ‘in orbit testing’ process conducted by the MoD, IAI and the IDF, responsibility for the satellite will be transferred to Unit 9900 of the IDF’s Intelligence Cops, after which the satellite will be declared operational.
IAI is the prime contractor for the MoD-led programme, having assigned it to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group, together with the MLM division, which is responsible for development of the launcher. The satellite’s payload was developed by Elbit Systems and the launch engines by Rafael Advanced Systems and Tomer, a government-owned defence company.