Ofek 11 Encounters Difficulties After Launch

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Israeli space program encountered difficulties again on Tuesday with the launch of reconnaissance satellite Ofek 11, the biggest and most advanced the country has produced to date.

Amnon Harari, head of the space department in the Defense Ministry, said: “We made contact with the satellite, we know it entered its orbit going around the earth every hour and a half.

“We are in continued contact with the satellite and are monitoring its condition. There are indications of some things that aren’t working as we expected. We’re trying to stabilize it, and this will take a few days,” Harari explained.

Space officials said they were “neither pessismistic nor optimistic, but realistic” about the satellite’s chances of success, and it will take time before the picture becomes clear.

Contact was lost with Ofek 11 a short time after launch, when it disappeared from tracking screens. It reappeared as it flew over Israel, but the cause of the malfunction was not yet known.

The launch took place in the afternoon from the Palmachim base in the south. Ofek 11 is a photography satellite launched for the purpose of intelligence gathering, and can cover the entire Middle East.

Its predecessor, the Ofek 10, was launched into space around 2 years ago, in 2014.

Trouble with Ofek 11 comes at a bad time, just a week after Israel’s Amos 6 communications satellite blew up on a launch pad in Florida, casting a pall over the country’s space program.