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Monday, January 15, 2007

Egypt to launch first spy satellite

Egypt to launch first spy satellite
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 15, 2007

In an effort to gain a foothold in space and gather intelligence on Israel
and other Middle Eastern countries, Egypt plans to launch its first spy
satellite on Tuesday from Kazakhstan.

The Egyptstat 1, which weighs just under 100 kilograms, will circle the
earth at an altitude of 668 kilometers. Using a high-powered multi-spectrum
telescopic camera, it will be capable of transmitting black-and-white, color
and infrared images. The camera can spot objects on the ground as small as
four meters across.

Egypt hopes to launch another satellite - called Desertstat - by the end of
the year, currently under construction in Italy. The Egyptstat satellite,
constructed in cooperation with the Yuzhnoye Company of Ukraine, will be
launched on Tuesday from Kazakhstan, carried by a Dnepr missile, together
with 12 light-weight Saudi Arabian satellites.

Tal Inbar, a senior research fellow at Israel's Fisher Institute for Air &
Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya, said the Egyptstat
launching marks a significant change in the balance of space capabilities in
the Middle East. It will help Egypt to collect intelligence on Israel, Inbar

"This has regional significance," Inbar said. "Egypt is basically saying
that they lead the region in satellite technology, since while Israel has
advanced satellites in space, they do not have multi-spectrum capabilities."

In April, Israel launched the Eros B spy satellite, which can spot images on
the ground as small as 70 centimeters across. It
enhanced Israel's ability to follow developments at Iran's nuclear

Eros B, which will orbit the earth alongside its predecessor - Eros A,
launched in 2000 - allows Israel, defense officials said, to gather
information on Iran's nuclear program and long-range missiles, which are
capable of reaching Israel.

In October 2005, Iran launched its first satellite - the Sina-1. Iran has
announced plans to launch another satellite, the Mesbah, in the near future.

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