Israel launches Ofek 13 Satellite

The launch took place at a test site in central Israel using a “Shavit” launcher.

By Erin Viner 

The Ofek 13 satellite was developed based on the experience of the defense establishment and IAI in the production of earlier satellites in the “Ofek” series, which have been launched since 1988.

The satellite successfully entered orbit, has begun transmitting data, and completed an initial series of inspections in accordance with original launch plans.

The mission was carried out by the Space and Satellite Administration of the Directorate of Defense Research & Development (DDR&D) at the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

IMoD and IAI engineers will continue pre-planned inspections before it begins full operational activity in the near future.

IMOD’s Space and Satellite Administration Head Avi Berger explained that Ofek 13 is a SAR satellite with the most advanced capabilities of its kind, entirely developed in Israel.

“Within the coming weeks, we will complete technical tests and receive the first pictures before delivering the satellite for operational use by the IDF, as part of a network of Ofek satellites that the IMoD and the IDF have operated in space for many years. “An SAR satellite will allow, among other things, day and nighttime imaging capabilities, and will drastically improve Israel’s intelligence capabilities from space for years to come,” he added.

Head of the DDR&D, Brigadier General (Res.) Dr. Daniel Gold said the Ofek 13 “is equipped with the utmost advanced abilities at the peak of global technology,” and that its launch “has proven Israel’s superiority in the field of space yet again,” constituting “leap forward in operational and technological abilities for the preservation and improvement of Israel’s standing in space for the coming decades.”

Development and production of the satellite and its launcher by the IMoD’s Space and Satellite Administration also includes the IDF 9900 Intelligence Unit and the Israeli Air Force (IAF). The satellite will be delivered to the IDF 9900 for operational use after it has been deemed fully operational.

The IAI is the prime contractor for the development of the satellite, launcher, and ground station monitoring system. The System Missiles and Space Group led by the Space division operates the project alongside with IAI Elta Subsidiary and the MLM division. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company.

“The successful launch of the satellite is yet another important example of the Israeli defense establishment’s groundbreaking innovation. Israel has already proved its diverse space capabilities many times and is one of very few countries to possess such capabilities – capabilities that we continue to develop and strengthen,” stated Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who was present during the launch.

“Our proud accomplishment today is first and foremost thanks to our engineers’ creativity, talent and consistency in addition to the hard work of outstanding professionals that took part in this operation. We will continue to prove that even the sky isn’t the limit for the Israeli defense establishment and that we continue to enhance its capabilities in every dimension in the face of various challenges,” added Lieutenant General (Res.) Gallant. Jerusalem’s top defense official remains in office after being fired by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, reportedly due to the lack of written documentation – in a move that may still be rescinded.

Saying that the successful launch represents an important step for Israel’s defense establishment and for his division specifically by positioning Israel “as a regional and international space power,” IDF Unit 9900 Commander Brigadier General Erez Askal thanked all of the space community partners.

“Our work has only just begun. Our unit’s soldiers and commanders will continue to work around the clock to ensure the satellite’s successful operation and to provide a full operational intelligence picture,” he vowed.