Israel added a new spy satellite to its line of observation assets in space on Wednesday morning. The Defense Ministry announced that the Ofek-13 satellite has advanced features and will undergo a series of tests before becoming operational.
The satellite was launched from the center of the country by a Shavit rocket. People living near the launch site heard the rocket take off.
The project was led by the Defense Ministry’s Space Department, with the involvement of various IDF units, including Unit 9900 and the air force.
Israel Aerospace Industries was the main contractor, while Tomer and Rafael defense companies produced the launch engines. Israel’s first satellite, Ofek-1, was launched in 1988.
It took until 1995 for Israel to launch a satellite that could take pictures of the Earth. The previous spy satellite, Ofek-16, was launched in July 2020 and received Israel’s top security prize last year. The satellites are operated by the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate.
Israel is among a few countries in the world that have reconnaissance satellites, giving it an edge in intelligence gathering. Iran also joined this group in 2020 after several failed attempts.