Israel cast a new version of its spy satellite into orbit Wednesday under the oversight of fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — with the hope of supplying its military with better-quality images.
Gallant’s supervision of the Ofek-13 satellite launch, which was planned months in advance, indicates he will remain in office even after breaking ranks and speaking out against Netanyahu’s controversial judicial overhaul plan.
As the plan was put on hold for at least a month to “avoid a civil war,” Gallant has continued to fulfill his duties as Defense Minister, even attending a security-related meeting Tuesday alongside Netanyahu.
The Ofek-13 launch took place at a test site in central Israel using a “Shavit” and was shot over the Mediterranean Sea, the Ministry of Defense said in a release.
Gallant hailed the successful launch as “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,” he said.
Gallant added: “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.”
The Ministry of Defense said that once the satellite successfully entered orbit it began transmitting data.
Once the satellite is deemed fully operational it will be delivered to the Israel Defense Force’s 9900 Intelligence Unit for operational use. Engineers will “continue pre-planned inspections before it begins full operational activity in the near future,” the Ministry of Defense said.
“Initial indications from the satellite are very good. Within the coming weeks, we will complete technical tests and receive the first pictures before delivering the satellite for operational use by the IDF,” said Avi Berger, the head of the ministry’s space and satellite administration.
In recent years Israel has been building up its surveillance capabilities in order to keep up with and monitor enemies, such as Iran.
With Post wires.