August 8, 2019
Israeli satellite Amos-17 was successfully launched into space early Wednesday, Israeli sources said. The satellite will enable Israeli intelligence services to track Tehran’s activities and obtain information about Iranian sites.
SpaceX launched the communications satellite for Israeli operator Spacecom from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on an expendable Falcon 9 mission, according to the Israeli website, Debka.
It succeeded in reaching its orbit above the African continent three years after the failure of the first test, which ended with the explosion of Amos 6 on its “Falcon” launcher.
The new communications satellite will provide the Israeli intelligence with the necessary information on Iran after a gap of nearly three years during which the Israeli authorities resorted to relying on temporary technical devices.
According to the website, SpaceX was more careful this time, it delayed launching the satellite for three days to replace a suspected rocket valve.
Built by Boeing, the $250 million Amos-17 weighs 6.5 tons with its solar panels deployed, it has a wingspan of 35 meters.
Launching the satellite comes three months after Tehran began the process of reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal and increasing stocks of enriched uranium.
The Iranian government hints at enriching uranium in higher proportions, raising fears of a return to a path that opens the door to the development of nuclear weapons.
In June 2010, Israeli defense ministry launched Ofek 9 satellite into orbit from the Palmachim air base south of Tel Aviv and said it was capable of observing what happens in Iran.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio back then that “Israel’s boosting of its intelligence capabilities is directed… to a large extent toward the threat posed by Iran, first and foremost the nuclear threat.”
Previously, in 2008, Israel flew to Delhi to launch the Israeli spy satellite, TecSAR, which was successfully launched from the southern Indian base of Sriharikota to track Iranian military activities amid tensions sparked by threats by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe out Israel.
In May 2006, Iranian websites said Israel had launched EROS (Earth Resources Observation Satellite) B commercial observation satellite from Amur Oblast, east Russia, to spy on its nuclear program.
Israel accuses Iran of carrying out secret nuclear activities aimed at producing nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.