COOL: Israel Launches Epic New Spy Satellite

( Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations on earth, and therefore one of the United States’ coolest allies. The nation launched a brand-new spy satellite into space on Monday, in what was called an “extraordinary achievement” by Benny Gantz, the Israeli Defense Minister.

“The Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries have successfully launched the ‘Ofek 16’ reconnaissance satellite into space,” an official statement from the Israeli Defense Ministry reads.

There’s footage, too! Take a look at the clip below and you’ll see the rocket firing into the sky, through the clouds, and right into orbit. Cool.

Israel is one of 13 countries that have the ability to launch reconnaissance satellites into orbit. Earlier this year, Iran launched its own satellite into orbit after many years of botched launch attempts.

The latest satellite launched by Israel, the Ofek-16, is an electro-optical satellite that has advanced functions and capabilities, according to the Defense Ministry, It was launched into space from the Palmachim air base using their “Shavit” rocket.

Shlomi Sundari, the head of the Israel space program, said their network of satellites allows the country to “watch the entire Middle East – and even a bit more than that.” He also said that the satellite was made entirely of Israeli technology.

The new satellite will be a big part of Israeli’s efforts to monitor Iran, which is understood to be continuing work on a nuclear program despite the deal struck with President Barack Obama. Israeli defense officials will be able to monitor the situation and see whether the country is working on a missile program.

When the satellite is switched on and fully operational, it will be controlled by the Israel Defense Force’s 9900 Intelligence Unit.