Israeli online publication Israel Defense reports that the Israeli government has placed an order for an ‘Ofek’ electro-optical high-resolution reconnaissance satellite with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
According to the Israel Defense report, published on 6 September 2016, the Israeli Ministry of Defence placed the order with IAI some time ago and that the Ofek satellite is already being built. It is believed that the Ofek satellite is an electro-optical one since the previous Ofek satellite launched had a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor. According to Israel Defense, the recent history of the Ofek satellite reconnaissance programme suggests that the “trend is to order one satellite with a radar and then another one with a camera.”
The last Ofek satellite launched in 2014 was the Ofek-10 satellite with a SAR sensor, capable of taking very high-resolution images at night and through cloud cover. Ofek-10 was launched from Palmachim Air Base in Israel in April 2014 on an Israeli Shavit space launch vehicle.
As is always the case when Israel launches intelligence payloads from Palmachim Air Base, Ofek-10 was launched due west over the Mediterranean Sea into a retrograde orbit. All other launching states launch either to the east (or north and south for polar orbits) in order to take advantage of the Earth’s spin. Israel launches west in order to ensure that its Shavit launcher and payload do not crash on the territory of its Arab neighbours. It is because Israel launches satellites to the west that it is believed to be a technological pioneer in developing very small but highly capable satellites.
The first Ofek satellite was launched in 1988, and the programme was believed to have started not long after U.S. President Richard Nixon refused to provide American satellite reconnaissance imagery to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. According to a history of the Ofek programme authored by a U.S. intelligence analyst, the refusal by President Nixon to share American intelligence with Israel convinced Israeli leaders that they must become self-reliant in acquiring space-derived intelligence.
Original published at: http://spacewatchme.com/2016/09/israel-orders-new-ofek-reconnaissance-satellite-iai/