Preliminary Conception

Missiles and Rockets

February 10, 1964

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: Numbers Station

MOL(e)Men Unleashed!

A manned orbital space space laboratory would be able to operate for several months without resupply. Basic Garrett-AiResearch systems could be slightly modified to meet requirements for environmental control, life support, cryogenic storage, power and attitude control for both the command module and laboratory.

Space World

December 1964, VOL. A-14

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: Garrett-AiResearch

Image source: Numbers Station

Artist Unknown

The MOL – Manned Orbiting Laboratory – is shown, in this artist’s view, being lifted into space by the Titan III C. On top of the cylindrical canister, the crew sit in a modified Gemini capsule.

Orbiting Stations: Stopovers to Space Travel

by Irwin Stambler
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: Numbers Station

Manned Orbiting Space Vehicle

Orbiting Stations: Stopovers to Space Travel

by Irwin Stambler
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: Numbers Station

Rendezvous with The MOL

Carefully watching the displays on their instrument panel, two astronauts in their Gemini ferry prepare to rendezvous with the MOL.

Orbiting Stations: Stopovers to Space Travel

by Irwin Stambler
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: Numbers Station

Reconnaissance Tomorrow

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: National Archives

Phase B Station Study 1970

Space Base at Astronautix

Image credit: North American Rockwell

Image source: Numbers Station

Gemini B / MOL

Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), an evolution of the earlier “Blue Gemini” program, which was conceived to be an all-Air Force parallel of NASA’s Gemini efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A 1960 concept image of the United States Air Force’s proposed Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) that was intended to test the military usefulness of having humans in orbit. The station’s baseline configuration was that of a two-person Gemini B spacecraft that could be attached to a laboratory vehicle. The structure was planned to launch onboard a Titan IIIC rocket. The station would be used for a month and then the astronauts could return to the Gemini capsule for transport back to Earth. The first launch of the MOL was scheduled for December 15, 1969, but was then pushed back to the fall of 1971. The program was cancelled by Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird in 1969 after the estimated cost of the program had risen in excess of $3 billion, and had already spent $1.3 billion. Some of the military astronauts selected for the program then transferred to NASA and became some of the first people to fly the Space Shuttle, including Richard Truly, who later became the NASA Administrator. 

Image # : 2B24070-Fig3

Date: Circa 1960

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: NASA on The Commons

Manned Orbiting Laboratory

Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), an evolution of the earlier “Blue Gemini” program, which was conceived to be an all-Air Force parallel of NASA’s Gemini efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: USAF Museum

Garrett/AiResearch

Gemini B/MOL at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source(s):

Apollo4Ever

Drew Granston