TELAVIV, Israel — Israel's first 24-hour, all-weather, high-resolution radarsatellite — dubbed TechSAR — was inserted into orbit Jan. 21 by an Indian PolarSatellite Launch Vehicle.
Thelaunch, from the Sriharikota test site on the Bay of Bengal in southeast India,marked the seventh successful orbital insertion for the four-stage PolarSatellite Launch Vehicle and the first cooperative satellite launch betweenIsrael and its principal export customer, defense and industry officials heresaid.
Accordingto state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), Israel's sole satellite producing firm, the first signals from the synthetic aperture radar(SAR) spacecraft reached the operational ground control station near IAIheadquarters some 80 minutes after launch. ''By all indications so far, thesatellite is functioning properly,'' IAI announced.
Ina Jan. 21 statement, IAI said company engineers began what will be anextensive, nearly month-long series of in-orbit tests to verify satelliteperformance. First images from TechSAR are scheduled to be collected in abouttwo weeks.
Israel's Ministry of Defenseand its national intelligence agencies will be the primary customers of theday-, night- and all-weather imagery generated by the TechSAR payload, whichwas developed by Elta Systems Ltd., an IAI subsidiary. Despite the strategicintelligence-gathering mission assigned to the nationally-funded TechSAR, Israel's Ministry of Defense did not provide a statement on the launch andreferred all queries to IAI.
''We'reall very proud of this achievement, which serves as additional proof of IAI'sgreat technological and administrative capabilities, and of IAI's leadership inthe Israeli space industry,'' noted Itzhak Nissan, IAI's president and chiefexecutive officer.
TechSAR'ssuccessful launch follows repeated technical and weather-related delays. TheIsraeli satellite was delivered to the Indian launch facility by summer 2007and had completed integration testing on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle intime for a fall 2007 launch. However, due to circumstances that neither IAI northe Indian launch provider was willing to discuss publicly, the satellite wasremoved from its launch vehicle and held in storage until several weeks beforethe Jan. 21 launch.