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Manned Orbiting Laboratory

From Academic Kids

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Manned_orbital_laroratory_full.jpg
Manned Orbiting Laboratory conceptual drawing

The Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) was part of the United States Air Force's manned spaceflight program, a successor to the cancelled X-20 Dyna-Soar project. It was announced to the public on the same day that the Dyna-Soar program was cancelled, December 10, 1963. Also codenamed Dorian and given the designation KH-10, the MOL was intended to be a space station used for reconnaissance purposes. It was derived from NASA's Gemini program. The project was cancelled on June 10, 1969 before there were any operational flights. MOL was later superseded by the KH-9 reconnaissance satellite. The contractor for the MOL was the Douglas Aircraft Company.

There was one test flight of an MOL mockup that was constructed from a Titan II propellant tank. The Gemini 2 spacecraft was re-flown on a 33-minute sub-orbital test flight. After the Gemini was separated for its sub-orbital reentry, the MOL mockup continued on into orbit and released three satellites. A hatch was installed in the Gemini 2 heat shield to provide access to the MOL and was tested in the sub-orbital reentry. The test flight was launched by the USAF on November 3, 1966 at 13:50:42 UTC on launch vehicle Titan IIIC-9 from LC-40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Gemini 2-MOL space capsule was recovered near Ascention Island in the South Atlantic by the USS La Salle.

The MOL was going to have a helium-oxygen atmosphere. It used a Gemini B spacecraft as a reentry vehicle. The crew were launched with the Gemini B and MOL and returned to earth in the Gemini B. They would conduct up to 30 days of military reconnaissance using large optics, cameras, and side-looking radar. The optical systems were further developed as the basis for the Kennan KH-11 spy satellites.

When the MOL program was cancelled in June 1969, there were 14 MOL astronauts in the program. NASA offered those under 35 years of age the opportunity to transfer to the NASA astronaut program. Seven of the 14 MOL astronauts were younger than 35 and took the offer. They were Richard H. Truly, Karol J. Bobko, Robert Crippen, C. Gordon Fullerton, Henry W. Hartsfield, Robert F. Overmyer and Donald Peterson.

In response to the announcement of MOL the USSR commissioned development of its own military space station Almaz.

In 2005, two MH-7 training space suits from the MOL program were discovered in a locked room in the Launch Complex 5/6 museum at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Nutter).

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MOL_Launch.jpg
MOL test launch Nov. 3, 1966 from Cape Canaveral, FL. (USAF)

Specifications

  • Crew: 2
  • Maximum duration: 40 days
  • Orbit: Sun synchronous or polar
  • Length: 21.92 m
  • Diameter: 3.05 m
  • Cabin Volume: 11.3 m³
  • Mass: 14,476 kg
  • Payload: 2,700 kg
  • Power: fuel cells or solar cells
  • RCS system: N2O4/MMH

Operational MOLs were to be launched on Titan IIIM rockets from SLC-6 at Vandenberg AFB, California and LC-40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Proposed MOL flight schedule

  • MOL mockup - launched unmanned - November 3, 1966
  • MOL 1 - Unmanned test - proposed launch date December 1, 1970
  • MOL 2 - Unmanned test - proposed launch date June 1, 1971
  • MOL 3 - Manned 30-days - proposed launch date February 1, 1972
  • MOL 4 - Manned - proposed launch date November 1, 1972
  • MOL 5 - Manned - proposed launch date August 1, 1973
  • MOL 6 - Manned (all Navy crew) - proposed launch date May 1, 1974
  • MOL 7 - Manned - proposed launch date February 1, 1975

MOL astronauts

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MOL_astronauts.jpg
14 of the 17 MOL astronauts:
Top row L-R: Herres, Hartsfield, Overmyer, Fullerton, Crippen, Peterson, Bobko, Abrahamson.
Bottom Row L-R: Finley, Lawyer, Taylor, Crews, Neubeck, Truly (USAF)


  • MOL Group 1 - November 1965

See also

References

  • Wade, Mark (April 18, 2004). MOL (http://www.astronautix.com/craft/mol.htm). Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved April 23, 2004.
  • KH-10 Dorian. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/kh-10.htm) GlobalSecurity.org.
  • Nutter, Ashley (June 2, 2005). "Suits for Space Spies" (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/features/found_mol_spacesuits.html). Retrieved June 4, 2005.

Template:US manned space programsde:Manned Orbiting Laboratory

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