Military Wiki
Mission type Radar imaging
Operator IAI
COSPAR ID 2008-002A
SATCAT № 32476
Website IAI
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass 295 kilograms (650 lb)[1]
Power 750 watts
Start of mission
Launch date 21 January 2008, 03:45 (2008-01-21UTC03:45Z) UTC
Rocket PSLV-CA
Launch site Satish Dhawan FLP
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 450 kilometres (280 mi)
Apogee 580 kilometres (360 mi)
Inclination 41º degrees
Period ~90 minutes

EL/M-2070 TecSAR,[2] also known as TechSAR, Polaris and Ofek-8,[3] is an Israeli reconnaissance satellite, equipped with synthetic aperture radar developed by Elta Systems. It was successfully launched at 03:45 GMT (09:15 local time) on 21 January 2008, by PSLV C-10 Launch Vehicle, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India.[4][5]

The TecSAR satellite is fitted with a large dish-like antenna to transmit and receive radar signals that can penetrate darkness and thick clouds. Built by Israel Aerospace Industries, TecSAR ranks among the world's most advanced space systems.[6]

Elta Systems Ltd cooperates with Azerbaijan to produce a TecSAR reconnaissance satellite system for the country.[7] According to Azerbaijani military experts, this is an indispensable system for military operations in the mountainous terrains of Azerbaijan.[8]


The satellite was successfully delivered into its target orbit about twenty minutes after launch. The four-stage PSLV rocket flew in the CA, or "Core Alone" configuration, with no strap-on solid rocket boosters. PSLV-C10, as the rocket used to launch TecSAR was designated, was the second flight of a PSLV-CA, and the twelfth overall for the PSLV series. Launch was contracted by the Antrix Corporation, the commercial department of the Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO. The TecSAR represents the first Israeli use of the Indian PSLV launcher. This made possible an orbit that could not be reached from Israel, with an altitude of 450-580 kilometers and inclination of 41 degrees. As a result, TecSAR cruises from west to east, unlike all the other surveillance satellites launched from Israel itself.

The PSLV was selected as TecSAR's launch vehicle since the Shavit rocket that was used to launch the Ofeq series of satellites put constraints on possible satellite orbits. Any launch from Israeli territory must be directed westwards, towards the sea, in order to prevent the launcher's first stages (or the satellite itself, in case of a malfunction) from falling on populated areas or on foreign territory. A westward launch, that is, against the direction of the Earth's rotation, seriously restricts the weight of the satellite that the launch vehicle can carry. In the past, Israel also experienced several failures - the most recent example being the attempted Ofeq-6 launch in March 2004. In such cases, security links and the operational experience of another partner can allow alternative launches when needed.[9]

The launch was delayed several times for unclear reasons. At one point, it was rumoured that the launch had been cancelled completely due to pressure from the US Government.[10][11][12] Indian and Israeli authorities denied this, however, citing technical problems instead.[13] In Israel it was rumoured that the launch had been delayed due to Iranian pressure on the Indian government.[14] However this was eventually proven to be baseless speculation.[citation needed]


TecSAR was placed into a Low Earth orbit with an apogee of 580 kilometres (360 mi), a perigee of 450 kilometres (280 mi), and an equatorial inclination of 41 degrees.


It is capable of imaging with a resolution of up to 10 centimetres,[4] through an X-band radar system.[15] The satellite's maximum resolution is believed to be around 1 metre.[16] TecSAR is the first Israeli satellite to feature Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which will provide images day or night and under all weather conditions.[17] The satellite is being operated by Israel Aerospace Industries.

TecSAR started transmitting high quality images from 1 February 2008.[17] The first image transmitted was that of the Latrun memorial monument.[18]

Strategic significance

TecSAR considerably enhances Israel's intelligence-gathering capability. The satellite could potentially be the start of new strategic relations between Israel and India, and could affect the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.[19]

Israeli media discussed the strategic significance of the satellite, particularly with regard to Iran. It was reported that TecSAR's ability to produce images in adverse weather and at night would allow Israel to obtain more information about the suspected Iranian nuclear weapons program.[20] It was also reported that it would be capable of producing images of Iranian activities which previous satellites were unable to view.[21][22]

Another report claimed that should Israel enter a conflict with Iran in the future, information provided by TecSAR could prove critical.[citation needed]

Iranian reaction

A fortnight after the launch, Iranian Ambassador Seyed Mehdi Nabitzadeh announced in a press conference in New Delhi that he had conveyed Iran's point of view to the Indian government regarding the launch. He emphasized his hope that "wise and independent countries like India do not give their advanced space technologies to launch spying operations against Iran".[23] The Indians however stress that the launch was purely a commercial one.[24][25]

See also


  3. Opall-Rome, Barbara (22 June 2010). "Israel Launches Ofeq-9 Satellite". Defense News. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Israeli spy satellite successfully launched from India". The Jerusalem Post. 2008-01-21. Retrieved 21 January 2008. 
  5. Tran, Mark (2008-01-21). "Israel launches new satellite to spy on Iran". Guardian Unlimited. London.,,2244324,00.html. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  6. Ninan Koshy, "India and Israel Eye Iran", Foreign Policy in Focus, 13 February 2008.
  7. Azerbaijan Mum about Israeli Spy Plane, Satellite Projects
  8. Israel rearms Azerbaijani army
  9. Yiftah Shapir: Launch Of Israel's TecSAR Satellite
  10. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". MeriNews Power to the People. 
  11. "ISRO and the spy in orbit". Deccan Herald. 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-08-21. [dead link]
  12. JTA - Satellite launch delayed again
  13. The Hindu - Israeli satellite launch by ISRO runs into 'tech difficulties'
  14. Yaakov Katz, "Iran delayed satellite launch", The Jerusalem Post, 22 January 2008, accessed 13 February 2008.
  15. Spaceflight Now - Covert satellite for Israel launched by Indian rocket
  16. eoPortal Directory - TecSAR
  17. 17.0 17.1 "IAI's TecSAR Satellite Transmits First High-Quality Photos". The Space Fellowship. 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  18. "Israeli TecSAR spy satellite beams first images". Aviation and Aerospace. 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  19. Ninan Koshy, "India and Israel Eye Iran", Foreign Policy in Focus, 13 February 2008.
  20. Yaakov Katz, "Spy satellite launched from India" The Jerusalem Post, 21 January 2008, accessed 13 February 2008.
  21. Yossi Melman, "Analysis: New Israeli spy satellite sends Iran a message", Haaretz, 21 January 2008, accessed 13 February 2008.
  22. "India' space station launches Israel's new 'spy satellite,'" Middle East News, 21 January 2008, accessed 13 February 2008.
  23. "India-Israel space ties irk Iran", 'Rediff, 5 February 2008, accessed 13 February 2008.
  24. ISRO Official website: PSLV–C10 Launched
  25. The Hindu Business Line: ISRO puts Israeli ‘spy’ satellite in orbit

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