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article imageIsrael's launch of high-tech spy satellite caught on video

By Kim I. Hartman     Jun 24, 2010 in World
Israel's Minister of Defense said last night's launch of the IDF's Ofek-9 Spy Satellite was "a technological and operational achievement.” Israel is using the satellite to monitor activities in foreign countries including Iran and Syria, said Al-Jazeera
Israel Defense Force announced today they were successful in receiving the first transmission today from the Ofek-9 spy satellite that lit up the Israeli sky when it blasted into space late Tuesday night. With the launch of new Ofek-9, Israel now has at least six spy satellites in space.
The launch was carried out at the Israeli Air Force experimentation field. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said the satellite launch was a glorious success, "a technological and operational achievement which only few other countries are capable of contending with.
Especially countries of Israel’s size, that are now capable of mastering a challenge as complex as this. The success of the launch is a testament to the courage, thinking, and high abilities of the security industries personnel and Israeli Security System personnel.”
The spy satellite is now orbiting the Earth and will be used as a photography satellite with "additional advanced technology abilities" by order of the Ministry of Defense.
Although the IDF gave very few details on the satellite, news organizations are saying the Ofek series of satellites are aimed at monitoring Iran's nuclear weapon activities. The satellite was developed by Israel Aircraft Industries in a joint project with other unnamed "high-tech industries."
The Israel Air Force Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. Nimrod Shefer, praised the new Israeli satellite saying "it endows us with extraordinary operational capabilities of seeing areas of interest to the State of Israel and its Air Force.”
A report from Al Jazeera wrote, "Israel believes Iran's uranium enrichment activities are aimed at producing nuclear weapons, an allegation Tehran denies and these satellites are meant to capture images of nuclear weapons production. Israel is also thought to be targeting Syria with its satellites. In 2007, alleged Israeli warplanes struck a site in Syria thought to be a nuclear facility under construction, although Israel has not commented on the incident."
Besides its spy satellites, Israel also has a number of communications satellites in orbit. Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, according to AlJazeera.net.
The Israel Defense Force's official position states "Iran has pursued all stages of developing nuclear weapons, including mining uranium, converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride, enriching uranium hexafluoride to obtain high-grade fissile material necessary for military use, and developing an implosion system needed for the detonation of nuclear devices. All this despite Iran's commitment to and ratification of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons."
Defense officials said Ofek 9 is one of the most advanced satellites Israel has launched into space and it's needed to combat terror throughout the world but more specifically in the Middle East.
“This provides Israel with greater operational flexibility, since we now have another set of eyes on a target,” Chaim Eshed, director of space programming at the Defense Ministry’s Research and Development Directorate (MAFAT), told The Jerusalem Post. “This means that we have increased the rate we can visit a target.”
The next spy satellite to be launched will be called Opsat 3000. It is scheduled to be sent into space later this decade and is expected to be capable of unprecedented optical remote sensing at extremely high resolution.
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