Israel Aerospace Industries successfully launched the eleventh Ofek reconnaissance satellite early yesterday for the country’s Ministry of Defense.
The Ofek 16 satellite was launched aboard an upgraded Shavit 2 rocket from Palmachim Airbase at 01:00 UTC on July 6. Following a successful launch, the Ofek 16 reconnaissance satellite was deployed into a low Earth from the rocket’s upper stage.
According to a July 6 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) press release, following its deployment, the satellite successfully transmitted data and appeared to be operating nominally. IAI and Israeli Ministry of Defense teams will now begin a “series of pre-planned tests” before the Ofek 16 satellite is cleared for operational use.
The Ofek 16 is a homegrown Irasali reconnaissance satellite developed by IAI and Elbit Systems, a subcontractor that supplied the satellite’s camera and payload. Once operational, it will be used to provide the country’s defense forces with surveillance capabilities to monitor enemy movements and troop build-ups.
Despite what the name suggests, the Ofek 16 is the eleventh Ofek satellite to be launched by Israel. Currently, just six remain in orbit with two lost in launch failures and three having been deorbited.