Israel launches Ofek 16 spy satellite into space

Israel launched a new spy satellite into orbit on Monday, saying it will bring enhanced surveillance capabilities.

Monday’s was the first launch of an Israeli satellite since the Amos-17 was sent into orbit from the United States last August. Photo courtesy Israel Ministry of Defense

A rocket launched carrying the Ofek 16 reconnaissance satellite before dawn at the Palmachim airbase, Israel Aerospace Industries tweeted.

Officials said it’s 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,” defense officials tweeted.

Israel Defense Forces were involved with the development of the satellite, which was designed by Elbit Systems. Rafael Advanced Systems and Tomer, a government-owned defense company, built the launch engines.

“[The launch is] yet another extraordinary achievement for the defense establishment,” said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel.”

Gantz said Israel is one of 13 nations that have satellite launching capabilities “made possible by the people who have been investing in these systems and advancing breakthrough capabilities over the years.”

The other satellite-capable nations are the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Japan, India, Ukraine, China, Russia and Iran, North and South Korea.

Monday’s was the first launch of an Israeli satellite since the Amos-17 was sent into orbit from the United States last August.

ByClyde Hughes