The Israel Space Agency and India's Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched an Israeli-made spy satellite early Monday.
The satellite, known as Tescar, was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in south-eastern India on the back of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), considered India's "workhorse" rocket. It weighs approximately 300 kilograms and is equipped with advanced synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, giving it the ability to capture clear images of earth even in inclement weather or in the dark.
Itzhak Nissan, President and CEO of Israel Aerospace Idustries, celebrated the launch saying the event is yet further proof of Israel's technological prowess. "(We are) very proud of this achievement, which serves as additional proof of IAI's great technological capabilities, and of IAI's leadership in the Israeli space industry," he said.
IAI officials said ground monitors began receiving signals from Tescar as soon as the satellite reached the station communication range, approximately 80 minutes after launch. They added that initial signs indicated the satellite is functioning properly, and that IAI engineers and scientists have started a series of in-orbit tests to verify its performance. The testing period is expected to last two weeks, and scientists will monitor movement and activity from a mission control center. First images are expected in early February.
Tescar is one of the world's most advanced space systems, and is the first satellite of its kind developed in Israel. It was designed, built and integrated by IAI's scientists and engineers in conjunction with the MBT Space Division, IAI subsidiary Elta Systems Ltd., as well as leading Israeli hi-tech companies such as Rafael, Tadiran-Spectralink and Rokar.
Tescar is Israel's eleventh satellite, and the eighth currently in orbit. The first seven are from the Ofek, Eros and Amos series. An additional Amos series satellite is expected to be launched from the Indian site in the coming months.
The launch was also a landmark for Israel-India coordination. Strategic and financial cooperation between the countries has been developing for several years, and the deal to launch a satellite was reached three years ago by Amos Yaron, then director general of the Defense Ministry. Two more satellites are scheduled to be launched jointly in the coming months.