Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Israeli spy satellite launch fails at cost of $100m

The attempt to launch the spy satellite Ofek-6 failed yesterday when the Shavit rocket carrying the payload on its tip malfunctioned in its third and final stage.

Ofek-6 was expected to provide Israel with intelligence data on countries of the 'third tier,' particularly Iran, who pose a threat with their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

The loss of the satellite is expected to delay Israel's plans for more sophisticated surveillance of long-distance threats, as well as an early warning of the launch of ballistic missiles from enemy territory.

The financial damage as a result of the loss is estimated at $100 million, but what is of greater concern at Israel Aircraft Industries, the maker of the Shavit rocket and the Ofek series of satellites, is that the reputation of its products is damaged on the international market."