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July 14, 2020 1:52 pm

One Week After Launch, Cameras Activated on State-of-the-Art Israeli Ofek 16 Spy Satellite

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A new Israeli spy satellite, called Ofek 16, is shot into space from a site in central Israel, July 9, 2020. Photo: Israeli Defense Ministry Spokesperson’s Office / Handout via Reuters.

A week after it was successfully launched, the cameras of the Israeli Ofek 16 spy satellite were activated on Monday night.

Ofek 16 is Israel’s most advanced reconnaissance satellite. It was sent into space on July 6 without incident and is now in low Earth orbit.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday said that engineering teams from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (Maf’at) turned on Ofek 16’s cameras and downloaded high-quality images to IAI’s control station in the city of Yehud.

The accomplishment marked the culmination of a series of tests in which all of the satellite’s systems and subsystems were gradually brought online and evaluated.

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The next step is to conduct further tests and preparations before bringing the satellite into operational use.

Maf’at’s space administration director, 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,” he said, predicting “many years of providing quality intelligence” once it was fully operational.

Boaz Levy — general manager and executive vice president of IAI’s Systems, Missiles,and Space Group — said the successful test was “another major achievement” for Israel’s defense establishment and aerospace industry.

After Ofek 16 lifted off last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz noted that Israel was one of only 13 countries capable of launching such a satellite into orbit, and added, “We will continue to strengthen and fortify the power of Israel on every front and everywhere.”

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