• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

MOL

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
13
Michel Van said:
blackstar said:
This is not the MOL vehicle. This is a possible civilian version that the contractor was trying to sell to NASA.

Douglas proposed that really to NASA as Civilian version of MOL
That's what I wrote.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,273
Reaction score
103
Thx for Link, George Allegrezza

It Interesting to what is Blacked in Text
of course the Resolution of MOL optical system, because it was used on next generation spy sats

but this quite puzzling
P-7-- Remote Maneuvering Unit. To evaluate the astronaut's ability to control the Remote Maneuvering Unit (RMU) the rest of sentences is black out

mention of A memo Between Generals about MOL, but the File reference number in black out

A name of a NRO Comptroller is black out in the entire text.

Department of Defense would undertake to develop MOL with a BLACK OUT capability, either manned or unmanned.
They also agreed that a flight demonstration of the unmanned system would be conducted nine months after the first manned flight.

MOL, it said, would produce photos containing sufficient detail to determine the performance characteristics, capabilities and
limitations of important enemy weapons. It also could provide intelligence of BLACK OUT and contribute "to the monitoring of any arms limitaticn agreement."
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
13
Michel Van said:
Thx for Link, George Allegrezza

It Interesting to what is Blacked in Text
of course the Resolution of MOL optical system, because it was used on next generation spy sats

but this quite puzzling
P-7-- Remote Maneuvering Unit. To evaluate the astronaut's ability to control the Remote Maneuvering Unit (RMU) the rest of sentences is black out

mention of A memo Between Generals about MOL, but the File reference number in black out

A name of a NRO Comptroller is black out in the entire text.

Department of Defense would undertake to develop MOL with a BLACK OUT capability, either manned or unmanned.
They also agreed that a flight demonstration of the unmanned system would be conducted nine months after the first manned flight.

MOL, it said, would produce photos containing sufficient detail to determine the performance characteristics, capabilities and
limitations of important enemy weapons. It also could provide intelligence of BLACK OUT and contribute "to the monitoring of any arms limitaticn agreement."
Most of that refers to satellite-to-satellite photography. That's the capability that they deleted. I'm 99% sure that the MMU sentence they deleted refers to its ability to be used to inspect Soviet satellites close up. The MMU got transferred to NASA's Gemini program instead.

And the comptroller's name has been known for a long time. I don't know why they deleted it this time, but it's not that big a deal. Note that you can find the deletions alphabetically in the index and you can figure out the words relatively easily.

The deletions are a lot less mysterious than you think.

By the way, this document got released because I filed a FOIA request for it many years ago.
 

Steve Pace

Aviation History Writer
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
2,269
Reaction score
11
It's kind of funny how fast the Skylab orbiter was thrown together and how it became a MOL of its own. -SP
 

carmelo

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
220
Reaction score
6
Maybe a GAAP (Gemini Application program) could be interesting.
Theoretically a hypothetical NASA MOL ,only with Gemini-B and space laboratory, and without all the optical and
surveillance systems of USAF MOL that delayed the project, would have been ready from 1967 if it had been decided in 1963?
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
755
Reaction score
2
Steve Pace said:
It's kind of funny how fast the Skylab orbiter was thrown together and how it became a MOL of its own. -SP

Huh? Fast? Skylab (AAP - Apollo Applications Program) was started in 1965. The wet workshop was started in 1966 and it went to dry in 1969.
 

XP67_Moonbat

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 16, 2008
Messages
2,154
Reaction score
13
http://spacenews.com/declassified-the-nros-abandoned-plans-for-a-manned-spy-satellite/
 

Attachments

Steve Pace

Aviation History Writer
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
2,269
Reaction score
11
Real "Buck Rogers" and/or "Flash Gordon" stuff. -SP
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,273
Reaction score
103

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
2,653
Reaction score
241
Crap, can't access that treasure trove. I got a 404 :mad:
http://www.nro.mil/foia/declass/MOL.html

By contrast this adress works well, and I have access to Michel Van Apollo documents.
http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/MOL.html

Go figure !

I've just spent two hours dowloading all 825 documents. That's one hell of dump from the NRO !

Currently reading the Apollo - MOL documents signaled by Michel Van.
My (early) opinion on this is that MOL studies show indirectly how bad Apollo X was - very badly defined, overly complex.

According to Astronautix (with the usual caveats) it looks as if the Apollo - MOL hybrid study was rammed into USAF and NASA by Senator Clinton Anderson.
http://www.astronautix.com/details/rec21913.htm

Hey, guess who managed to blend their MOL and AAP program into a single, common space station hull ?
You guessed, the Soviets succeded where Anderson failed.
From 1970 Chelomei Almaz hulls were moved to Mishin OKB-1 and outfitted with Soyuz sub-systems to create Salyut. Perhaps the Senate should have done the same thing to force the Air Force and NASA to cooperate.

EDIT: just seen the 282 pictures released by the NRO. Some are straight out of a sci-fi movie.
 

carmelo

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
220
Reaction score
6
If USAF had used Apollo for MOL,maybe NASA could continue with Apollo/Saturn program.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
755
Reaction score
2
carmelo said:
If USAF had used Apollo for MOL,maybe NASA could continue with Apollo/Saturn program.
No it would not, just stop with this. Why do you keep repeating this?
 

archipeppe

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 18, 2007
Messages
1,562
Reaction score
75
Byeman said:
carmelo said:
If USAF had used Apollo for MOL,maybe NASA could continue with Apollo/Saturn program.
No it would not, just stop with this. Why do you keep repeating this?
I quote byeman, the end of Apollo programme was essentially a political issue (due too complex reasons to be explained now).
The start of MOL was also a political issue wanted by McNamara to cease the X-20 programme, while the end of MOL was due essentially to technical reasons (the unmanned satellites CORONA and the upcoming HEXAGON) had almost the same performances of MOL/DORIAN without the complication (and the the cost) of having manned crew on orbit rather than having a good ground segment with skilled operators on Earth.

There is no sense repating the same question all over again and again.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
13
archipeppe said:
Byeman said:
carmelo said:
If USAF had used Apollo for MOL,maybe NASA could continue with Apollo/Saturn program.
No it would not, just stop with this. Why do you keep repeating this?
I quote byeman, the end of Apollo programme was essentially a political issue (due too complex reasons to be explained now).
The start of MOL was also a political issue wanted by McNamara to cease the X-20 programme, while the end of MOL was due essentially to technical reasons (the unmanned satellites CORONA and the upcoming HEXAGON) had almost the same performances of MOL/DORIAN without the complication (and the the cost) of having manned crew on orbit rather than having a good ground segment with skilled operators on Earth.

There is no sense repating the same question all over again and again.
On Monday look at The Space Review. I'll have an article there about MOL's cost overruns and schedule slips. It was started as a $1.5 billion program, but by 1969 one estimate was that it would cost $3.1 billion. And the launch date for the first manned flight had slipped by 3.5 years to mid-1972.
 

carmelo

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
220
Reaction score
6
Byeman said:
No it would not, just stop with this. Why do you keep repeating this?
archipeppe said:
There is no sense repating the same question all over again and again.
Because i have write this at the beginning,BEFORE that i have remember that was an other topic on this subjct (that I went to resume).
So i have forgot to cancel this message,i apologize.
Was not a tentative to trolling,only a forgetfulness.
Anyway now the query is totally clear...but let's admit mine was not a meaningless question.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
13
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2858/1

Blue suits and red ink
Budget overruns and schedule slips of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program

by Dwayne Day
Monday, November 2, 2015


In the late 1960s, Dr. John McLucas served as undersecretary of the Air Force and wore a dual hat as Director of the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). McLucas had been involved in numerous air and space programs over many years, and he headed the NRO when the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) had run into major funding and schedule problems, resulting in Richard Nixon canceling it in summer 1969. MOL had been a big project officially approved by Lyndon Johnson in 1965. According to his 2006 memoir Reflections of a Technocrat (written with Kenneth J. Alnwick and Lawrence R. Benson), McLucas was not in favor of MOL and did not fight its cancellation. In the mid-1990s, in response to a question, McLucas remarked that his problem with MOL was that “It was always one year and one billion dollars from being ready.”
 

Attachments

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
9,029
Reaction score
204

http://www.space.com/31433-secrets-of-the-manned-orbiting-laboratory-revealed-infographic.html​
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
13
The color artwork at the top of the flyer is really misleading. This was NOT the MOL spacecraft. In fact, this was something that the contractor produced to try and sell the basic MOL design to NASA as a space station (in competition with the Apollo Applications Program). So it's not MOL, not military, and not even something that they were building.

NRO released that image without a caption, and because the artwork is so good, lots of people jumped to it and assumed that it is the MOL. It was only a proposed civilian version.
 

XP67_Moonbat

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 16, 2008
Messages
2,154
Reaction score
13
50 years ago today, the MOL boilerplate made a flight on a Titan IIIC.

http://www.drewexmachina.com/2016/11/03/the-usaf-manned-orbiting-laboratory-test-flight/
 

Flyaway

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 21, 2015
Messages
2,522
Reaction score
362
The Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL)


National Reconnaissance Office
Published on Jul 13, 2018

This video provides an overview of the historical Manned Orbital Laboratory, or MOL, program, and its impact on early national reconnaissance efforts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZVyHL6_gxQ
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
13
They released that several years ago, but this appears to be a much sharper version.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,273
Reaction score
103
in june 2014, some one uploaded Video about the Gemini B mock up on vimeo
in a week the Video was remove "Do Copyright Issue"
guess what its back, this time with audio !

https://vimeo.com/102422452
 

NERVA

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
60
Reaction score
0
Walking the High Ground: The Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the Age of the Air Force Astronauts

https://scholar.colorado.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2811&context=honr_theses
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,273
Reaction score
103
Here new Video about MOL program

first 20 minute test of a model for zero g shower for MOL
next work on MOL Mock up build by Republic Aviation Corporation
i Not sure about that spacesuit could be a David Clark MD-1 or 2 suit for MOL program

 

archipeppe

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 18, 2007
Messages
1,562
Reaction score
75
Was a proposal,but NASA was not interested.
Right.
NASA wasn't interested because, at that times, it had already its plans for civilian space station.
First place was MORL, to not mistake with MOL, otherwise the "Manned Orbiting Research Laboratory", with emphasis on "research".
The study was carried on by Douglas, and evinsioned the use of a spent Saturn C5 third stage.

Such concept was later adopted by NASA within its AAP (Apollo Application Programme) first in the form of "wet workshop" (an empty third stage used as it is), later in the form of "dry workshop" (a customized third stage), eventually the later concept made it leading to the actual Skylab.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,273
Reaction score
103
MORL was from begin a dry workshop and to be launch with Saturn IB (Saturn V for higher orbit or Mars fly by)
it had to use spent S-IVB stage either as counterweight for Rotation for artificial Gravitation experiment or as test bed for wet workshop.
What happen to MORL is unclear to me, but NASA switch to S-IVB Wet workshop under AAP, i think it's because Apollo hardware since MORL used Gemini hardware

It's interesting speculation what had happen if NASA took MOL as "low cost" Alternative to AAP after Capitol Hill cut founding in 1967 budget.
but that for section for What If and Speculations in this forum
 

RanulfC

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Mar 6, 2009
Messages
738
Reaction score
121
MORL was from begin a dry workshop and to be launch with Saturn IB (Saturn V for higher orbit or Mars fly by)
it had to use spent S-IVB stage either as counterweight for Rotation for artificial Gravitation experiment or as test bed for wet workshop.
MORL was two very different proposals mind you. One was based on using the MOL as a basis and a Titan as a launch vehice, (with the assumption it would 'compliment' the USAF MOL program) and the other was actually a Saturn-1 (Apollo Lunar Adapter Module section being a 'dry' lab and using part of the SIVB as a 'wet' lab expansion) based system that NASA prefered. One major reason being that the Saturn MORL could use either Gemini or Apollo for servicing and crew transfer while the Titan MORL could use Gemini but not Apollo without extensive, (and expensive) modifiction.

NASA prefered the Saturn-1/1B MORL due to the availabiilty of more pressurized space, experimental space and expandability than the Titan based MOL-MORL:
616588
What happen to MORL is unclear to me, but NASA switch to S-IVB Wet workshop under AAP, i think it's because Apollo hardware since MORL used Gemini hardware


MORL based on the Titan was ONLY 'cheaper' from Air Force accounting and assumed several other 'modifications' to NASA operations that NASA didn't like. (Including replacing the Saturn-1 with the Titan-IIIM and modifications there-on to fly Apollo and NASA was on the hook for those costs all by themselves since the Air Force didn't 'need' the capability) When it became clear that neither the Saturn nor Titan based MORL was going to be authorized it was decided to move away from all the 'wet' concepts towards 'dry' stations that would require minimum if any on-orbit work and be direclty ready for operations. Again NASA prefered more room and more capapablity since they were unlikely to get a continued "Space Station" program authorized so they went with the Saturn-V boosted 'dry' SIVB station concept.

It's interesting speculation what had happen if NASA took MOL as "low cost" Alternative to AAP after Capitol Hill cut founding in 1967 budget.
but that for section for What If and Speculations in this forum
Eh, not so much really. Consider for a moment that the MOL was "low-cost" BECAUSE it was also low capability compared to what the Saturn/SIVB system. Whereas Skylab hosted three crews over 24 weeks between 1973 and 1874 ONE (1) Titan MOL/MORL would have supported only ONE (1) crew for around 20-30 days before having to return to Earth and expend the Titan-MORL.

So you're looking about 5 to 6 Titan-MORL launches and missions to equal what one Skylab mission did, which was fine for the Air Force but unlikely to be approved for NASA. Keep in mind that NASA rather than being able to use ether the Saturn-1's or Saturn-V left over from Apollo in such a case would need to fund modifictions and upgrades to the Titan-IIIM to loft the Apollo CSM, modifictions to the MOL to turn it into a MORL, (docking and other hardware and an extensive reworking of the systems on-board to support three rather than two astronauts on each mission) and then pay for the MORL's to be built and launched and the Titan-IIIM's to do so. This would have made things a 'bit' cheaper for the Air Force overall but not so for NASA, which was fine with the Air Force :)

Randy
 

Flyaway

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 21, 2015
Messages
2,522
Reaction score
362

My years working on black programs

by Robert E. Andrews

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hello, my name is Robert E Andrews and I had the good fortune of working in the aerospace business from its early stage in the ’50s through the end of the century.

I attended Drexel University in Philadelphia after high school, matriculating into the mechanical engineering major. I didn’t like this field, lost interest, and dropped out after two years. However, during these years, I did learn a skill that gave me employment. I got a job with the helicopter pioneer Frank Piasecki as a draftsman. I also applied for work with General Electric’s new Missiles and Space Department in Philadelphia, which was located just across the street from Drexel.

In June of 1958, I got a letter from GE asking that I come in for an interview. My supervisor at Piasecki encouraged me to go. He realized working for a big company like GE would offer me many career opportunities. I got the GE job working in the Navigation and Control Engineering drafting room.

I found out that all employed in engineering here required a Secret clearance. So, I was placed in a small room by myself with a drafting table and remained isolated for about six weeks. After my clearance was granted, I moved into the main drafting room with about sixty other draftsmen, designers, and lofts men. (A loftsman develops full scale patterns, or drawings, of complex shapes.)

One of my early assignments was to lay out a printed circuit board. My electrical engineer gave me a schematic and identified each part type, be it a TO5 transistor, carbon resistor, tantalum foil capacitor, et cetera. My task was to fit all the components on a fixed size board and connect them according to the schematic with copper circuit runs on the back of the board. These were the days of single sided boards and jumper wires were not allowed. I took to this like a duck to water. I was given more boards to layout and did well.

My supervisor observed that I was anxious to learn new things. He assigned me to the Discoverer project to develop system schematics, interconnection diagrams, and wire harness definition. I was working for the Electrical Systems engineer. His was a very responsible and highly visible position. And like most engineers working in this new field, he was in his early 20’s, just three years older than me. There were senior engineers in management positions, but there were no senior spacecraft engineers. Everyone was learning on the job.

I was going to be briefed on a highly classified program called CORONA. He told me that what I was about to learn, I could not discuss with anyone who was not also cleared for this information. I could not talk about this with family, friends, or other GE employees forever.

Discoverer was started in early 1958. Officially, it was a US Air Force program to launch payloads into space and recover them. The Discoverer spacecraft included the Agena upper stage, manufactured by Lockheed, atop a Thor rocket. General Electric was responsible for the satellite recovery vehicle, or SRV, mounted on the nose of the spacecraft. Discoverer was scheduled for its first launch in early 1959 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast.

As part of my introduction to the Discoverer program, I was taken to the monkey lab. The Discoverer cover story was that it was a biological experiment to see how monkeys would perform under the conditions of spaceflight. So there were technicians and medical employees in this room full of screaming caged monkeys trying to train them to do simple tasks like hitting a switch when a light came on so they would get a piece of apple. What a terrible place that stunk to high heaven. I hoped I never had to interface with this group again.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
2,653
Reaction score
241
The NRO declassifications since 2010 really blew my mind. Notably all the projects were NASA and the NRO somewhat slept together.
It is pretty fun, since NASA is public and totally transparent when NRO was so deeply classified, its very own existence was only acknowledged in 1992, 30 years in existence, and only because Cold War was over.

My favorite one is UPWARD, where an Apollo was to drag a freakkin' KH-8 spysat in lunar orbit (in place of a LM so no landing) to get pictures as detailed as LRO... 40 years in advance, 1969 instead of 2009.

Also NASA trying to grab some KH-10 72-inch mirrors and imaging systems in 1969, after the KH-10 was cancelled by Nixon in June. And the KH-10 mirrors finally ending on a ground-based telescope, the MMT. Pioneering interferometry.

Also Hubble and KH-11 relationship, still not exactly detailed yet.

Plus all the powerful cameras of KH-8s (and the cancelled KH-10s) that could see USSR details as small as 4 inch from a height of 100 miles and through a turbulent atmosphere.

I said it many times in the past, but some of this NRO - NASA relationship stuff is technothriller stuff. Imagine, what Martin Caidin would have done with that. Or Larry Bond.
 
Last edited:

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
755
Reaction score
2
My favorite one is UPWARD, where an Apollo was to drag a freakkin' KH-8 spysat in lunar orbit (in place of a LM so no landing) to get pictures as detailed as LRO... 40 years in advance, 1969 instead of 2009.
It was a KH-7. And like Lunar Orbiter, it was to use a discontinued system and not state of the art.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
2,653
Reaction score
241
Early on (1964-66) UPWARD was a KH-7, sure. Later on (66-67) NASA wanted a KH-8 and Lockheed would screw General Electric on that.

Ok, I will caricature facts a bit, exagerating a little, but facts are facts, it really happened this way with UPWARD and PERCHERON.

- General Electric, in turn, was so angered, they pitched NASA "end of series" KH-7 spares under the codename PERCHERON.
By 1967 indeed the KH-7 GAMBIT was being phased out in favor of the KH-8 GAMBIT-3 or "cubed". A search by G.E found they had four or five KH-7 sitting in storage here and there, so why not try, they reasonned ?
With PERCHERON G.E proposed kind of "discount spysat deal" to NASA.

- Meanwhile at the same time NASA tried to switch UPWARD and PERCHERON from lunar imaging to AAP Earth orbit space stations.
I don't know what they were thinking about, but the NRO hit the roof, for obvious reasons.
Imagine, NASA would kind of doing their job (snapping ultra-high resolution pictures of the Soviet Union, pardon, of the Earth surface) without being denied by the US Gvt (NRO had to wait 1992) not even classified or even a military agency. Totally transparent, totally in the spotlight.
Just THE perfect opportunity for the Soviets to learn everything they need about the KH-7 and KH-8. Just think about Kampiles and that KH-11 manual in 1977: it would be nothing in comparison.

- Needless to say, the NRO was completely baffled and was growing ulcers just thinking about possible National Security breaches by these civilian fools that were quietly bargaining advanced and classified spysat technology with NASA !

- G.E was not playing the proverbial "used car salesman" but somewhat, "the used spysat salesman". And Lockheed being Lockheed (hint, C-5, F-104...) they were hardly any better.

- By July 1967 the NRO had enough and told G.E, Lockheed and NASA "STOP THAT. FORGET IT." And all was cancelled.

- Which did not prevented, two years later, NASA from hiring top optical scientist Aden Meinel to get their hands on the MOL ATS and 72-inch mirrors, to no avail.

- Meinel however carried on and got six or seven MOL mirrors for the Arizona MMT ground based telescope, pioneering visible light interferometry with them.

The entire story / stories above are barely believable, particularly at the height of Cold War. and considering the extremely high secrecy surronding spysats an the NRO itself, which very existence stopped from being denied by the U.S government only in 1992, 30 years after it was created, and ONLY because Cold War was over.

And 27 years of declassifications later, we still ignore a lot of details, not only of KH-11 (logical) but even of all the earlier birds, even CORONA retired in 1972.
 
Last edited:
Top