'New satellite to boost intelligence on Iran'

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London, Jan 22: TECSAR-- a sophisticated Israeli satellite which was launched into space early yesterday, could boost intelligence gathering capabilities regarding Iran, leading daily Ha'aretz reported.

The satellite, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries(IAI), was placed into the intended orbit by Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu at 0915 hours yesterday. The satellite has the ability to use radar to identify targets even under adverse weather conditions, including dense clouds setting it apart from Israel's Ofek series of reconnaisance satellites, in the manner that the latter relied only on cameras.

Israel currently operates a number of reconnaissance satellites, including Ofek 5 and Ofek 7, as well as several commercial satellites such as the Amos and EROS series. A total of 11 Israeli satellites have been placed in orbit, a number of them still operational.

The Ofek 5 was launched in May, 2002, and the Ofek 7, last July, from the Palmachim missile range on Israel's coast.

Israel intends to launch another two spy satellites as part of its strategic cooperation commitments, the paper reported.

IAI ground stations reported receiving signals at 0710 hrs, showing that all measuring parameters were operating correctly.

A first picture from the satellite is expected within two weeks, the paper quoted IAI officials as saying.

ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair, however, denied any knowledge whether the Israeli satellite was a 'spy satellite' and dismissed reports that United States had pressed India not to launch it.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi yesterday, Mr Nair said ''I have no knowledge to this effect. I have seen the satellite only from outside.''


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