WASHINGTON — Israel conducted its first domestic satellite launch in four years April 9, lofting the Ofeq 10 radar reconnaissance satellite into orbit aboard a Shavit rocket, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), the prime contractor for the rocket and satellite, announced in an April 10 press release.

Liftoff occurred at 10:15 p.m. local time from the Israeli Air Force’s Palmachim Airbase on the Mediterranean coast. The satellite entered orbit early April 10, where it underwent a series of tests and began transmitting data and imagery, IAI said.

Ofeq 10 is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar capable of collecting high-resolution imagery in all weather conditions day or night, IAI said. 

The press release provided no details of Ofeq 10’s orbit. Previous Ofeq satellites have been launched into retrograde orbits — meaning opposite the direction of Earth’s rotation — at medium inclinations to maximize coverage of the Middle East. Israel launches to the west over the Mediterranean to avoid overflying its hostile neighbors to the east.

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Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. He was named senior staff writer in 2004, a position he held...