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Israel Launches New Spy Satellite; Iran ‘Under the Microscope’

Israel successfully launched the ”Ofek 9” military spy satellite late Tuesday from the Palmakhim base in central Israel. All systems are working.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/22/2010, 11:28 PM

Israel successfully launched the ”Ofek 9” military spy satellite late Tuesday night from the Palmakhim base in central Israel, and the Defense Ministry said all systems are working.

"Right now, it's giving a pulse, and we assume it has opened its solar panels, but our inspection and validation must wait for it to pass over Israel," a program official told DefenseNews.com. "Right now, all I can say is the injection was very nominal and very precise. The first stage, second stage and third stage separation of the satellite from the launcher performed as planned."

The Ofek, the Hebrew word for “horizon,” weighs about 650 pounds and orbits every 90 minutes. It is the ninth in a series of satellites that Israel has launched with a high success rate and longevity. The Ofek 6, failed in its launch in 2004.

The latest craft, with a high resolution camera that can function at night, is the third to be functioning at the present time. One of the satellites it will join is the TecSar, which was launched from India in 2008.

Iran is part of their trajectory, and military intelligence officers have used the satellites to keep track of Iran’s activity in developing its nuclear power program.

Officials have kept secret details of the Ofek and the information that it has obtained.