Israeli defense officials say a new spy satellite is operational and taking high-quality pictures after suffering technical difficulties during its launch early this month.

Amnon Harari, director of the Defense Ministry's space administration, says officials downloaded the first images from the Ofek 11 satellite at about 5:10 p.m. Thursday.

He tells reporters, "the images are splendid, very good."

After the satellite was launched on Sept. 13, officials said it was not acting as expected. Harari says that since then, experts have been busy stabilizing the satellite and its systems.

Officials have described the Ofek 11 as the country's most sophisticated spy satellite.