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Israeli Spy Satellite Launched

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Israeli Spy Satellite Launched

An Israeli spy satellite has been launched by a Russian Start-1 launch vehicle. The launch took place from the Svobodny Cosmodrome in the Amur region of the Russian Far East at 8:47 p.m. Moscow time on 25th April.

The satellite, Eros-B will be able to resolve objects on the ground as small as 70cm and will suppliment a pair of Israeli spy satellites already in operation, Eros A and Ofeq-5.

Eros B is small, lightweight satellite, weighing less than 350kg. It will orbit the earth at an altitude of 500 km, completing an orbit every 95 minutes.

Israel is capable of launching satellites itself but opted to use a Russian launcher instead. Usually satellites ar launched into a west to east orbit. This tales advantage of the earths rotation to aid the launch. Israel, however, has to launch east to west to avoid overflying Arab territory. This greatly rescticts the weight of the payload that the indigenous Shavit booster can place into orbit.

The Russian Start-1 booster is a modified Topol intercontinental ballistic missile, decommissioned from it's original task as a result of the SALT agreement with the USA.

Sources: ITAR-TASS, United Press International, Reuters

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The Israelis consider this satellite and it's predecessor Eros A as commercial Earth observation satellites and so the description as a spy satellite is a little misleaing. Having said that images obtained by this satellite will be used by the Israeli military and intellegence services.

The Eros satellites are operated by ImageSat International, a company registered in the Netherlands.


The ImageSat press release is reproduced below:

Succesfull launch of EROS B

ImageSat Successfully launched EROS B

Very High Resolution Satellite into Space

April 25, 2006- ImageSat International announced today the launch of its EROS B commercial satellite, from the Cosmodrome in Svobodni, Siberia by a Start 1 launcher. Command and control communication with the satellite was established as scheduled after the launch.

"Based on ImageSat International past experience, we expect to receive first images from the EROS B satellite within few days, and we assume that full services to our customers will commence within few weeks", said Mr. Shimon Eckhaus, CEO of ImageSat International.

“ImageSat International is already operating the EROS A High Resolution satellite since it's successful launch in December 2000. EROS B joins the EROS A satellite to provide our customers with very high resolution commercial satellites constellation. We are confident that the combination of EROS A and EROS B, will provide ImageSat’s customers with the best service", said Eckhaus.

EROS B, the second EROS family satellite, operated by ImageSat International, is a lightweight commercial satellite, which will deliver very high resolution imagery -70cm, for a wide range of applications. Its low weight (290kg) ensures maximum agility and stability for optimum imaging quality. Similar to EROS A, the EROS B satellite is expected to provide services for 8-10 years.

ImageSat’s exclusive service provides customers unique tasking and reception capabilities with highest level of secrecy and autonomy. With the successful launch of EROS B, ImageSat International will offer to its existing as well as future customers additional service concepts with an improved re-visit time.

The launch took place precisely at 16:46 GMT, and the satellite separated from the Start-1 rocket as planned approximately 16 minutes after launch, at an altitude of 508 KM. The satellite deployed its solar panels after 16.30 minutes as scheduled. It will take approximately 10 days to verify that all satellite sub-systems are operating according to specifications.

ImageSat International’s shareholders include Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit/ElOp Electro Optics Industries as well as investors from the US and Europe. The satellite was produced by Israel Aircraft Industries/MBT Space Division and includes Elbit / ElOp camera installed on board.

ImageSat has recently successfully raised us$30M bonds to finance this EROS B satellite launch and is planning to go public in the near future.

Source: ImageSat Press Release

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