Israel’s newest spy satellite began beaming back its first pictures on Monday night, a week after it was launched into orbit, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
“A week after its successful launch into space, engineering teams… activated the Ofek-16 reconnaissance satellite’s cameras for the first time last night and downloaded initial photographs of incredible quality from the satellite to an Israeli Aerospace Industries control center in Yehud,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry did not release copies of these initial photographs to the public.
The satellite was launched in a joint operation by the Defense Ministry’s Space Department and the Israel Aerospace Industries. According to the Defense Ministry, since the launch teams from both organizations have been performing checks on the satellite to ensure it was operating correctly.
“As part of this, they activated — in a gradual and controlled way — all of the systems and subsystems that make up the satellite. Upon completing the process, the satellite’s camera was successfully activated. In the coming weeks, the engineering teams will continue with the process of thorough testing and will prepare the satellite for operational use, in accordance with a pre-set protocol,” the ministry said.
The Ofek-16 satellite was launched into orbit in the predawn hours of last Monday morning. It was the latest reconnaissance satellite to be launched by Israel, coming four years after the previous one — the Ofek-11 — in 2016.
Read More: Times of Israel