Israel's Shavit rocket seen lifting off with a new military reconnaissance satellite aboard

Israel launches satellite to keep tabs on Iran

Israel has launched a new military Earth-observation satellite to monitor Iran’s nuclear progress.

The Ofek 10 satellite, the latest in the line developed and manufactured by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, is a light-weight spacecraft that encircles the Earth every 90 minutes.

The satellite has already begun transmitting data and visual material and is expected to be fully operational within months.

"The Ofek 10 satellite should improve Israel's intelligence capability and allow the defence establishment to better deal with threats near and far," said defence minister Moshe Yaalon.

"We are continuing to strengthen our tremendous qualitative and technological advantage over our neighbours."

The satellite has the capability to direct its imaging radar on a specific target, unlike other satellites which perform a general sweep of territory and can provide high definition images at any time of the day regardless of weather conditions.

"It has an incredible imaging capability...to give very precise photos," said Ofer Doron of Israel Aerospace Industries.

The satellite was carried to space aboard Israel’s Shavit rocket, launched unusually in the westward direction to prevent spent rocket stages from falling on territories of countries in the east, which have strained relationships with Israel.

Israel hopes the satellite will help not only monitor Iran’s progress with its nuclear programme, but also the activities of militant groups across the region.

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