Sentinel Down

And yet again, after leaving behind a cutting edge stealth helicopter during the bin Laden raid, the U.S. conducts another, involuntary, state-of-the-art military technology transfer to the enemy.

Iran’s capture of US drone shines light on spy mission, but may reveal little

The Iranian capture of a high-tech, stealth U.S. drone shines a light on the American spying mission there, but probably doesn’t tell Tehran much that it didn’t already know, a senior U.S. official said.

The RQ-170 Sentinel was providing surveillance over Iran and didn’t just accidentally wander away from the Afghanistan border region, as first suggested. The official said Wednesday that the Iranians will no doubt be able to tell where the aircraft flew. A bigger U.S. concern, the official said, was that the Iranians are likely to share or sell whatever they have recovered of the aircraft to the Chinese, Russians or others. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the mission.

Experts and officials acknowledge that there is no self-destruct mechanism on the Sentinels — which are used both by the military and the CIA for classified surveillance and intelligence gathering missions.

. . .

U.S. officials said that while they have enough information to confirm that Iran does have the wreckage, they said they are not sure what the Iranians will be able to glean technologically from what they found. It is unlikely that Iran would be able to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

See also:
US admits downed drone spied on Iran
Iran says US spy drone was flying deep inside its airspace when it was downed
Malfunction likely put U.S. drone in Iranian hands
Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone
U.S. Military Sources: Iran Has Missing U.S. Drone
Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets
China, Russia want to inspect downed U.S. drone
Sentinel unmanned drone lost in Iran among US most valuable warfare assets
Drone belonged to CIA, officials say
Downed drone was on CIA mission
Officials: Drone downed in Iran on CIA mission
Drone Lost in Iran Was Joint CIA-Military Reconnaissance Plane
Iran’s downing of U.S. drone rattles Washington
US ‘concerned’ over drone lost near Iran border
Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry
US considered missions to destroy RQ-170 Sentinel drone lost in Iran
Spy drone may provide little help to Iran
U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone
U.S. Made Covert Plan to Retrieve Iran Drone
Iran: The Stealth War Continues
Drone Drama Proves Iran Is Ready to Rumble
Stealth drone highlights tougher U.S. strategy on Iran
U.S. drones have been spying on Iran for years

The good news is that we seem to be paying close attention to what Iran is up to, have been for years, and can penetrate Iranian airspace with near impunity. These past and, hopefully, ongoing intelligence gathering and surveillance activities should help provide a detailed blueprint for when push comes to shove and Iran has to be dealt with militarily, which is sure to eventually become a necessity.

/that said, it’s a total unforced strategic error to just let Iran have this advanced technology drone, to share with or sell to other potential enemies of the United States, would it have killed us, if we didn’t want to risk lives to recover the Sentinel, to at least launch an airstrike package to obliterate the wreckage?

A New Space Capsule For Not Going To The Moon

The original reason for developing Orion was to return to the moon as part of the Constellation Program, but Obama canceled that idea.

NASA’s Orion capsule, testing center unveiled

The first version of NASA’s new manned Orion space capsule is ready to begin a series of rigorous trials, in preparation for the vehicle’s first test flight in 2013.

NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, the aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, unveiled the prototype spacecraft and a spacious, state-of-the-art testing center Tuesday near Denver. Lockheed’s Space Operations Simulation Center (SOSC) will put Orion through various paces, testing its navigation, ranging, descent and landing systems, among other features.

“Lockheed Martin built this remarkable facility to develop and test spacecraft systems, further demonstrating our commitment to improve safety and advance capabilities for future U.S. human spaceflight,” John Karas, vice president and general manager for Lockheed’s human spaceflight programs, said in a statement.

See also:
NASA Space Capsule Begins Tests at New Proving Ground
NASA’s Orion Moon Craft Unveiled at New Spaceflight Facility
NASA’s Orion begins road to space travel
Lockheed Martin unveils first Orion spacecraft
Lockheed Unveils Orion Space Vehicle
Lockheed Martin Unveils First Orion Spacecraft
Lockheed reveals new simulation center, Orion spacecraft
The Future Of Space Exploration Takes Step Forward In Littleton
Lockheed Martin unveils Orion test facility
Lockheed Martin unveils Colorado training center for Orion
NASA – Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle
Orion (spacecraft)

Apparently, the Orion will be relegated to serving as an incredibly expensive emergency escape vehicle for the International Space Station, if the ISS is still even around sometime after 2013, when Orion might first be operational.

/you’d think we’d at least consider using Orion to ferry our astronauts to the ISS and back, instead of having to rely on the Russians, who keep jacking up the price, but no, apparently not