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Ofeq, also spelled Offek or Ofek (Hebrew: אופק‎, lit. Horizon) is the designation of a series of Israeli reconnaissance satellites first launched in 1988. Most Ofek satellites have been carried on top of Shavit 2 rockets from Palmachim Airbase in Israel, on the Mediterranean coast. The low Earth orbit satellites complete one Earth orbit every 90 minutes. The satellite launches made Israel the eighth nation to gain an indigenous launch capability. Both the satellites and the launchers were designed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with Elbit Systems' El-Op division supplying the optical payload.

Description

While exact technical details and capabilities are classified, it is assumed that the Ofek satellites have an effective operational lifespan of 1–3 years and ultraviolet and visible imaging sensors (except Ofek 8 and 10 which utilize synthetic-aperture radar for all-weather and nighttime reconnaissance). Some reports place the imaging resolution at 80 cm for Ofek-5.[ultraviolet and visible imaging sensors (except Ofek 8 and 10 which utilize synthetic-aperture radar for all-weather and nighttime reconnaissance). Some reports place the imaging resolution at 80 cm for Ofek-5.[citation needed] Most non-Israeli satellites are launched eastward to gain a boost from the Earth's rotational speed. However, Ofek satellites are launched westward (in retrograde orbits) over the Mediterranean to avoid flying over, and dropping spent rocket stages over, populated land areas. Other Israeli satellites (such as the Amos series) are launched from locations in other countries.[1] Ofek's east-to-west orbit of 143.0° orbital inclination[2] is phased to give good daylight coverage of the Middle East. Ofek makes a half-dozen or so daylight passes per day over Israel and the surrounding countries, whereas American and Russian spysats only get one or two passes per day from their higher inclination orbits.

Launch history [3]

  • Ofek-1, was launched on 19 September 1988, possessed a weight of 155 kg and circled the Earth on an orbit with a perigee of 249 km and an apogee of 1149 km on a course bent around 142.9°. It accomplished mainly solar cells and radio transmission tests.
  • Ofek-2, was launched on 23 April 1990, on a course with a perigee of 149 km and an apogee of 251 km, bent around 143.2°. It also accomplished communication tests.
  • Ofek-3, the launch of Ofek-3 was initially postponed from 15 September 1994 to 5 April 1995,[4