USAF’s MOL

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: National Archives

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

Manned Orbiting Laboratory 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)

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: USAF Museum

Garrett/AiResearch Litho.

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source(s):

Apollo4Ever

Drew Granston

The Dorian Files Revealed

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: National Reconnaissance Office

USAF Operation MOL

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: Stellar Views

’68 MOL by Ted Brown

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: SDASM Archives

MOL

(WX3) WASHINGTON, AUG. 25 — ARTIST’S CONCEPTION OF MANNED ORBITING LABORATORY (MOL) REVEALED BY PRESIDENT JOHNSON TODAY AT HIS WASHINGTON NEW CONFERENCE. (U.S. AIIR ORCE PHOTO VIA AP WIRE PHOTO) (rbe41015ho) 1965.

Manned Orbiting Laboratory at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell

Image source: Numbers Station

Manned Orbiting Facility

Manned Orbiting Facility at Astronautix

Image credit: McDonnell Douglas

Skylab by Neil Jacobe

B&W (As seen in Roundup dated Nov. 24, 1967)
NOV. 67 S-67-51373

MANNED SPACE CENTER, HOUSTON, TEXAS

ORBITAL WORKSHOP — Artist’s concept showing how a Saturn S-IVB stage will appear when converted to the Apollo Applications Orbital Workshop. Launched fully fueled with airlock and docking adaptor attached, the S-IVB’s liquid hydrogen tank becomes a shirtsleeve environment workshop after the fuel has been depleted. At left is an Apollo Command and Service Module launched separately and docked into one of the docking adaptor’s ports. The Apollo Telescope Mount is shown docked into one of the side ports. The ATM will be joined to the cluster in a second phase of the program. Solar cell “wings” to provide power fold outward from the S-IVB after orbit is achieved. McDonnell Douglas Corporation’s Missile and Space Systems Division is making the S-IVB orbital workshop modifications under contract to NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and McDonnell Astronautics Company is developing the airlock under contract to MSC. (MCDONNELL DOUGLAS PHOTOGRAPH)

Look closely and you’ll notice subtle differences between this version of the painting and a colour rendering found in the SDASM Archives I’ve shared before.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Jacobe’s work, his artwork for the Douglas MOL can be found here. The images are small and plastered with watermarks, so it’s a bit of a tease but they are beautiful.

Skylab at Astronautix

Image credit: NASA

Image source: Numbers Station

Convair Lunar Lander

source

Kraft Ehricke at Astronautix

Image credit: Convair

Image source: Paul Carsola

S-69-60223

Space Station 1970 at Astronautix

Image credit: North American Rockwell

Image source(s):

NASA

Apollo4Ever