Israel Launches Ofek 1 Satellite

September 19, 1988

Israel launches Ofek 1 (Ofek means Horizon), its first space satellite from an undisclosed location near the Mediterranean Sea. The 340 pound satellite orbited the Earth once every ninety minutes at distances of between 400 and 1,600 miles.

According to NASA, Ofek 1 made Israel just the ninth country with satellite-launching capabilities. While the satellite was designed as a civilian project, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres stated, “This is not a weapon. This is not an arms race. This is technology,” it aroused fears from some of Israel’s neighboring states that the launch was part of Israel’s ability to collect intelligence. The launch also showed that Israel possessed ballistic missile capability.

Coverage of the Ofek 1 launch from the Chicago Tribune