At the IDF’s satellite unit, the satellites are operated by mostly female 19-year-old soldiers.

“We search for creative nerds with extra credit in mathematics, physics, computer studies but also theater, arts and dance,” says Captain S., 32. “Technology is not the only criteria. We need people who can problem-solve because we often encounter situations that require real-time, sensible decision-making to prioritize satellite missions,” she says.

“Some of our work here is not just to retrieve information for intelligence purposes but also to ensure the longevity of the satellite. Our babies are each worth upwards of $100 million and we must be attuned to their problems so that we can solve them remotely.”

Israel’s six operational satellites are a main tool in Israel’s intelligence-gathering.

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Operations in Syria, Iraq, the Red Sea, Africa, and Iran could not be carried out without a constant flow of intelligence made possible by satellites.

The newest satellite, Ofek 16, launched in July 2020, became operational in recent weeks and has begun providing better quality images than any of its predecessors.  Read more at Ynet