Senior level Israeli security official: “Things are not working as we expected”
Mere hours following the Ofeq 11 satellite launch from Palmachim Airbase, Israeli security establishment officials suspect that several of the satellite’s crucial systems are not properly functioning. “A satellite’s first hours are always difficult,” a senior level official said. “There are indications that things are not working as we expected.”
The satellite launch earlier today Photo Credit: Space Manager at Maf’at, Defense Ministry/Channel 2 News
As reported earlier today (Tuesday) by JOL News (JerusalemOnline), the new Ofeq 11 reconnaissance satellite was launched from Palmachim Airbase. Israeli security establishment officials are paying very close attention to the data the satellite is transmitting back to Israel. At this point, the emerging picture is bleak as it seems that several of the satellite’s crucial systems are not functioning properly.
Just mere hours following the launch, officials received the first indications regarding the satellite’s condition. “A satellite’s first hours are always difficult,” said a senior level Israeli security establishment official. “There are indications that things are not working as we expected, but we are working on them.”
With that being said, the Israeli security establishment reported that the satellite has entered its planned path and is currently orbiting Earth. They hope that the new and most advanced satellite Israel has built to date will join the country’s fleet of reconnaissance satellites.
Ofek-11 surveillance satellite successfully launched into space
Most advanced Israeli spy satellite enters orbit, but technical issues interrupt steady communications • Ofek-11 is an all-weather satellite • Aerospace experts cautiously optimistic, say they are still trying to stabilize satellite's systems.
Lilach Shoval and Ilan Gattegno
The launch of the Ofek-11 satellite, Tuesday
Photo credit: Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure
Israel on Tuesday successfully launched the Ofek-11 surveillance satellite into space, mere weeks after the Amos-6 satellite, carrying state of the art communications technology, was destroyed in a static test malfunction, just two days before it was scheduled to be launched into orbit.
While Ofek-11 entered orbit as planned, it began experiencing technical issues that interrupted its steady communications with its control station, at the Palmachim Air Base in central Israel, almost immediately.
"It is going to be a while before we can assess if this launch was fully successful, there are some issues that we are still concerned about," an Israeli defense official said Tuesday night. "We can't be 100% optimistic, but we are not 100% pessimistic either."
Another official noted that "some things appear to be out of the ordinary, but we have yet to complete our assessment; we are trying to stabilize its systems."
The Israel Aerospace Industries designed Ofek-11 as an all-weather radar imaging satellite that can provide imagery at all hours of the day. It was fitted with more sophisticated systems than the Ofek-10, which was launched from the same launch site in 2014.
The first Israeli satellite, Ofek-1, was launched into space in 1988. At the time, Israel was the eighth country to have successfully developed and launched a satellite into space. Today 12 countries have this capability.
For fear that rocket debris would be recovered by hostile countries in the region, Israel launches its satellites over the Mediterranean Sea. This means that Israeli satellites have to be particularly small to compensate for the earth's west-to-east rotation.
Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis praised the defense establishment for reaching yet another milestone.
"The Israeli space industry's superiority and professionalism are the product of the dedication and expertise of the teams involved in such projects," he said. "I am determined to ensure Israel's space capabilities are enhanced and that it remains a technology superpower," he continued.
Given the loss of the Amos-6 satellite, a continued malfunction in the Ofek-11 continues would be a crushing blow to the Israeli aerospace industry.
Several months ago Israel Aerospace Industries CEO Yossi Weiss lamented that Israel did not have a multiyear plan for its space industry. "Israel refuses to look at its surroundings," he said. "It is investing only chump change in space compared to other countries; Israel should have been much farther ahead [in space technology] but it is stagnating."
Quelle: ISRAEL HAYOM
Israeli spy satellite ‘not working as expected’
Israeli satellite explodes on rocket in Cape Canaveral
Analysis: What's next for Israel's satellite program after Amos-6?Officials say ground control was trying to stabilize the Ofek 11 satellite as they communicate with it.
The launch of the Ofek 11 spy satellite . (photo credit:Courtesy)
The Ofek 11 military spy satellite launched on Tuesday from Palmachim Airbase in central Israel has encountered significant difficulties, the Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which made the satellite, said hours after the launch.
Amnon Harari, head of the space administration in the Defense Ministry, and Ofer Doron, head of IAI’s MBT Space Division, said the satellite entered its orbit correctly and began circling the Earth every 90 minutes, but it remained unclear if all onboard systems were working. “There are a number of things that are worrying us,” they said in a statement.
Officials said the ground control station was trying to stabilize the satellite as they communicate with it.
“We are communicating with it,” Harari and Doron said. “We still do not know if there are problems. We are carrying out widespread checks. There are indications that things are not working as we expected.”
Ofek 11, part of the Ofek series, was supposed to become Israel’s sixth active spy satellite. The troubled launch follows the loss of Amos 6, an Israeli civilian communications satellite, which was destroyed when its SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher blew up on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on September 1.
Two years ago, the Defense Ministry and IAI successfully launched Ofek 10 into space aboard a Shavit (Comet) space launch vehicle. That satellite carries synthetic aperture radar, which has advanced day and night imaging capabilities.
Quelle: THE JERUSALEM POST
Ofek 11 satellite launched into space, experiences technical difficulties
Israel's new observation satellite was successfully launched on Tuesday from Palmachim Airbase; later in the day however, it appeared to be experiencing multiple malfunctions.
Yoav Zitun|Published: 14.09.16 , 00:04
Approximately two weeks following the failure of the Amos 6 satellite, which exploded on the ground in Cape Canaveral, Israel Aerospace industries and the Ministry of Defense successfully launched the Ofek 11 satellite into space on Tuesday from Palmachim Airbase near Rishon LeZion. However, it turned out later in the day that the satellite's systems may be malfunctioning.
"There are indications according to which things aren't working as we expected, and so we are trying to stabilize (the satellite). There are things that make us worried. The satellite orbits the earth once every hour and a half. It's possible that some systems are not in the correct condition," officials told the press Tuesday.
The Ofek 11. Successfully launched, but experiencing possible malfunctions. (Photo: Shuki Cheled)
Since the Ofek 11 is an observation satellite, as opposed to a communication satellite, it is not constantly accessible to crews on the ground. Moreover, since the operators only have access to it for short periods once a day, it will take some time—perhaps a few days—until they know if it will ultimately prove to be a success.
If the Ofek 11 does maintain enough of its functions to be useful, it will mainly serve the IDF and other security organizations in Israel. Its observation systems were designed to surpass those of previous iterations in the Ofek satellite series.
Quelle: SUN BAT YAM
Israel Concerned About 'Behavior' of Latest Spy Satellite – Ofek 11
TEL AVIV – Israel used its indigenous Shavit launcher on Tuesday to loft Ofek 11, its latest and most advanced spy satellite, into space, but program officials say they are concerned by its “behavior” and are unsure whether it will successfully fulfill its intended eight-year remote sensing mission.
“We made contact with the satellite, but its not yet clear that all is well,” Amnon Harari, director of the Defense Ministry’s Space Administration, told reporters here.
“We’re checking its systems, but it is not behaving as expected … there are parameters that are not behaving as we expected, and this worries us to some extent,” he said.
Program officials say it could take days to discern specific reasons for the undisclosed anomalies and to stabilize the situation.
Developed and produced by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, Ltd., the 370-kilogram Ofek 11 with its 70-centimeter high-resolution telescope by Elbit Systems Elop was launched late Tuesday afternoon from Palmachim Air Base south of Tel Aviv.
Like all previous spy satellites launched from Israel, Ofek 11 was launched westward, over the Mediterranean Sea, against Earth’s eastward rotation.
A Sept. 13 Defense Ministry statement noted that it entered into its planned retrograde low Earth orbit, and that government and IAI technicians are continuing a series of preplanned tests.
Tal Inbar of Israel’s Fisher Institute for Strategic Air and Space Studies noted that normally, the operational viability of remote sensing satellites is clear within hours of launch. “This is the first time that the situation of the satellite shortly after a successful launch is not clear, and this concerns us,” he told Defense News.
“There is still a chance to bring all the satellite systems to an operational state and that the satellite will perform as planned. But at the moment, it is unclear whether efforts being conducted by the ground crews will end up solving the problem,” Inbar said.
Israel launched its last spy satellite – Ofek 10, with its synthetic aperture radar payload -- in April 2014. Within hours of that launch, the satellite had begun transmitting data and visual material to the government ground station at IAI’s MBT satellite production facility.
Latest troubles with Israel’s newest Ofek 11 satellite come on the heels of the launchpad loss earlier this month of an IAI-built communications satellite. That 5.4-ton satellite was planned for launch aboard a Space-X Falcon 9 rocket two days before it exploded on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Quelle: Defense News
Israel’s new spy satellite ‘not functioning’ as expected
IAI, Defense Ministry fear system errors as they try to ‘stabilize’ the newly launched Ofek-11 recon satellite
The Israel Aerospace Industries satellite was successfully put into orbit using a Shavit rocket, a locally produced space launch vehicle, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Space Department, Amnon Harari, told reporters.
However, in the hours after the launch, it was “not clear that everything was in order,” he said.
Due to the rotation of the Earth, the teams on the ground are only able to make contact with the satellite “once every few hours,” something that makes the work of the engineering teams “sevenfold more difficult,” said Doron Ofer, CEO of the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Space Division.
“We have downloaded some figures, and we are now checking them. It’s not functioning exactly the way we expected, and we don’t know what it’s status is,” Ofer said.
“We are now working to stabilize it, but it will take some time because of the small amount of communication we have with it when it comes in our area,” he said.
The satellite was shot into space from the Palmachim Air Base, just outside the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, at 5:40 p.m., Harari said.
Israel’s Ofek-10 satellite takes off from Palmachim Air Base in central Israel on April 9, 2014. (Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries)
The Ofek-11 is an upgrade from the Ofek-10 satellite launched in April 2014. However, Ofer would not discuss what exact improvements were made to the design of the satellite to make it superior to its predecessor.
The Ofek-11 was to join approximately 10 other satellites, including the Ofek-10, Ofek-9, Ofek-7 and Ofek-5, that feed intelligence to Israel’s security forces.
The Amos-6, Israel’s largest ever satellite, and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on which it was perched go up in flames after the rocket exploded on the launch pad during a static fire test at a launch facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida on September 1, 2016. (YouTube screen capture)
The launch came less than two weeks after the civilian Amos-6 communications satellite was destroyed when the SpaceX rocket carrying it exploded on the launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida during a pre-launch test.
Facebook had planned to use the satellite, which was built by Israeli company Spacecom, to beam high-speed internet to sub-Saharan Africa.
Quelle: START-UP ISRAEL
Israel's Defense Ministry sources believe that despite possible malfunctions, it will be possible to stabilize the satellite launched earlier this week.
Defense sources today expressed optimism about the situation of the state-of-the-art Ofek 11 Israeli surveillance satellite, which was launched into space from the air force's trial field at Palmachim. Yesterday, three hours after the satellite was launched with a powerful Shavit rocket, defense sources expressed concern about malfunctions liable to disrupt its functioning. Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) manufactured the satellite for the Ministry of Defense.
The 400-kilogram satellite, equipped with an advanced camera from Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT), is designed to enhance Israel's intelligence gathering capabilities in areas of interest by providing high-quality images of small objects. The Ofek 11, one of the most advanced satellites developed and manufactured at IAI's MABAT division, is designed to give Israel's intelligence system another eye in space.
"The satellite is definitely not lost"
The launch of the satellite - a difficult and perilous task in itself - was successful. Shortly afterwards, it entered its orbit for circling the earth every 90 minutes at a height of 600 kilometers. A few hours after the launch, however, when it was spotted at the IAI ground station in Yehud, and a number of orders were transmitted to it in the course of testing its functioning, the Ministry of Defense received alarming indications of a malfunction.
Ofek 11 satellite encounters problems
Israel launches Ofek 11 surveillance satellite
The Ministry of Defense and IAI declined to specify the circumstances of the malfunction, but had trouble concealing their anxiety. "It is still unclear whether everything is in order," Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT) head Brig. Gen. (Res) Amnon Harari said. "We are working to stabilize it. There are indications that things are happening other than what we expected - technical details within the satellite. We are not completely optimistic, nor are we completely pessimistic."
According to IAI/MBT CEO Ofer Doron, it will take several days to tell for sure whether the satellite's systems are functioning properly. Defense sources explained that several days were needed in order to monitor the functioning of the satellite's systems at Ovda, which it overflies every 90 minutes on its way around the earth. When it passes over its ground station, it can be contacted for a few minutes while orders are being transmitted and messages received; the information is then processed and analyzed by many engineers.
Launched in the framework of the Ministry of Defense's regular work program, the Ofek 11 was designed to ensure high-quality intelligence coverage even in the event of a failure in the satellite's launching or functioning. Israel has other intelligence satellites in space - both observation satellites and radar satellites from the Ofek series - capable of providing high-quality visual information about various field conditions all over the world, even at night and in difficult weather conditions. "The Ministry of Defense has a multi-year program managing a quantity of space satellites, I won't say how many, and more satellites are being built," a defense source said.
Today, almost 24 hours after the launch, defense sources were more optimistic about the fate of the Ofek 11: "The satellite is definitely not lost. Communication is taking place between it and the ground station, and there is cautious optimism about yesterday. In any case, we will not be blind," one of the sources said.
Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies Space & UAV Research Center head Tal Inbar told "Globes" today that assessment of the malfunctions in the satellite was likely to continue for a few days, until it is possible to start generating solutions. "A satellite is a very complex system, based on electrical, computer, orientation, photovoltaic cells, antennas, batteries, and other systems. All of these systems have to work perfectly. When there is a single malfunction, it affects all the rest of the systems, and vice versa," Inbar explained. "In the past, there were cases around the world in which satellites suffered from malfunctions of some kind, and worked for years at reduced capacity, such as research missions or remote sensing tasks. Sometimes you learn to live with the limitations. As I said, in this case, it's too early to tell."
Two weeks ago, the Amos 6 satellite, developed and manufactured for IAI by Spacecom Satellite Communications Ltd. (TASE:SCC), exploded in Florida, following what appeared to be a malfunction in a Falcon 9 rocket being refueled for launching. For still unclear reasons, the rocket on which the satellite had already been installed in the framework of the preparations for launching it exploded and caught fire. There is no connection between the malfunction in the Ofek 11 satellite and the explosion of the Amos 6, other than a proximity in time and coincidence.