The Ofek-11 reconnaissance satellite launched earlier this month sent its first images down to Israeli engineers on Thursday, dispelling fears that the craft, which experienced issues after launch, would not be able to function at all, the Defense Ministry said.
At 5:10 p.m., engineers turned on the satellite’s “payload” and downloaded the first images from the spacecraft, according to a ministry statement.
Shortly after the launch earlier this month, the team operating the satellite discovered it was “not functioning exactly the way we expected,” Doron Ofer, CEO of the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Space Division, said at the time.
Since then “dozens of engineers have been working to stabilize the satellite and its systems,” the ministry said.
According to the ministry, that work paid off.
“The Ofek-11 satellite will provide operational outputs,” the ministry said.
The teams working on the satellite were made up of representatives from both the Defense Ministry’s Space Department and the IAI Space Division, who ranged from “youngsters in their 20s to veteran engineers in their 70s,” according to the statement.
The engineers have been in contact with the satellite since its launch, though the work was somewhat slowed due to the rotation of the Earth.
The satellite was shot into space at 5:40 p.m. on September 13 from the Palmachim Air Base, just outside the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion.
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.