Israelis launch spy satellite

 - June 18, 2007, 9:10 AM

Israel launched another reconnaissance satellite last week as military tensions increase in the Middle East. After lifting off from the Palmachim range at 2:40 local time on June 11, the Shavit three-stage launcher successfully delivered the 300-kilogram Ofeq-7 into a low-Earth, elliptical orbit. Once in orbit, Ofeq-7 unfurled its solar array that should give it a minimum life of four years.

The satellite was produced by IAI, in cooperation with other Israeli high-tech companies including El-Op, IMI, Rafael, Tadiran-Spectralink and Elisra. This is the first publicized reconnaissance satellite launch since the failed launch of Ofeq-6 on September 6, 2004, which resulted in the satellite crashing into the Mediterranean after a third-stage failure. However, some sources allege that there may have been further unpublicized launches in the interim.