An Israeli joint venture launched Tuesday a satellite based on spy technology capable of taking photos of small terrestrial objects from space, company officials said. Imagesat, a joint venture between state-owned Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and the private El Op Electro Optic Industries, launched the 250 kilogram (550 pounds) Eros satellite with a Russian rocket in Siberia at 1230 GMT.
Based on IAI's Ofeq-3 spy satellite, the Eros is capable of producing pictures with a one-meter resolution from its orbit 480 kilometers (300 miles) above the earth, a company spokeswoman told AFP. She said that the Eros would be only the second civilian satellite in orbit with such a high degree of resolution. It would also be the lightest one yet, which reduces launch cost and increases mobility, she added.
Imagesat hopes the Eros — which cost $100 million to build, insure and launch — will help them tap into what they say is a two billion dollar annual market for global imaging, assisting clients with urban planning, laying cables and natural disaster response.
Tuesday's launch is the first of eight scheduled Eros launches, which company officials hope to complete by 2004, creating a satellite network capable of scanning the entire surface of the planet within a few hours. — (AFP, Jerusalem)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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