OFEQ (Horizon) Satellite

   A long-term project intended to provide Israel with an independent space satellite capability. The pace of research and development associated with OFEQ was accelerated in the early 1990s in the context of the reported refusal of the United States to provide Israel with satellite data about Iraqi ballistic missile emplacements during the Persian Gulf War (1991). OFEQ1, produced by Israel Aircraft Industries, was tested in September 1988. OFEQ2 was tested in April 1990. Both projects reentered the earth's atmosphere within six months of being launched. OFEQ3, also known as EROS (Earth Resources Observation System), was launched on 5 April 1995; launched on a three-stage Shavit rocket, it was designed to last two years in orbit. On 22 January 1998, OFEQ4 failed to reach its intended low-Earth orbit and dropped into the Mediterranean Sea.
   Despite this setback, senior officials reaffirmed Israel's commitment to the satellite project. OFEQ5 was launched by a Shavit satellite launcher from the Palmachim missile test center on the Israeli Mediterranean coast on 28 May 2002. Circling the Earth from east to west, every hour and a half, at an approximate angle of inclination of 143 degrees and at altitudes between 370 and 600 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, OFEQ5 is designed to provide high-resolution images and rapid image acquisition over target areas. It has an anticipated lifespan of four years. On 6 September 2004, OFEQ6, equipped with long-range cameras outfitted with sophisticated night vision capabilities, failed to reach orbit. OFEQ 7, the latest in the OFEQ series, was launched on 10 June 2007. Israel launched the TECSAR reconnaissance satellite, atop an Indian missile from a launch site in India, on 21 January 2008.
   As with many other projects of Israel's military-industrial complex, OFEQ is shrouded in secrecy. It is generally assumed that the goal of the project is to provide the Israeli military an independent reconnaissance satellite capability flying over Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Formally, the government said that it was an "experimental satellite intended for scientific and technological purposes." It is viewed as a key component of Israel's capacity to deter the threat of long-range ballistic missiles.
   See also Eros-B.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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