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June 12, 2014 1:13 pm

Israel’s Newest Spy Satellite Sees its 1,000th Dawn (VIDEO)

avatar by Dave Bender

Israel's Ofek 10. Photo: Israel MOD.

Israel’s Ofek 10 surveillance satellite is operating at “100 percent success,” two months after its nighttime launch, senior Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials said Thursday.

“Everything we designed is operating well, so far, and [Ofek 10] has already completed 1,000 orbits around the earth,” according to Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Amnon Harari, who heads the ministry’s Space Directorate.

“The satellite had to perform a particular maneuver in order to deploy it’s radar; after the first orbit we understood that it was a success, which is not something to be taken for granted,” Harrari told Israel’s Channel 2.

The Israel Aircraft Industries craft – “Horizon” in English – was lofted into orbit in early April atop the twin-engined Shavit (Comet) rocket, which was launched from the Palmachim airbase, south of Tel Aviv.

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Operating at an altitiude of 600 kilometers (373 miles) and circling the Earth every hour-and-a-half, the state-of-the-art “Synthetic-Aperture Radar and cameras provide unprecedented viewing in any weather environment and at night,” the MoD boasts.

“The successful launch of Ofek 10 is another testimony to the impressive ability of the State of Israel to develop and lead on the technological front,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said after the launch.

“The Ofek 10 satellite is meant to improve the state of Israel’s intelligence capabilities, and allow the defense establishment to better deal with threats that are near and far, at any time of the day, and in all types of weather,” he said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “This is how we continue to consolidate our enormous qualitative and technological edge over our neighbors.”

Ofek 10 is the sixth spy satellite Israel has launched, after its predecessor, the $300 million Ofek 9, was sent into space in June 2010.

While officials were not about to reveal the latest satellite’s specific abilities, “Ofek 9’s images are of exceptional quality, and its camera’s resolution allows us to views items only a few centimeters across, an advanced ability possessed by only a handful of countries.”

Watch the launch of the Ofek 10 spy satellite (video courtesy Israel Ministry of Defense):

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