Manned Orbiting Laboratory MOL

In 1963 the United States Air Force announced that it would begin work on a project called the Manned Orbiting Laboratory or MOL, as it was commonly known.  The idea of the project was initially to determine the efficacy of putting American military personnel into space.  The cold war was near its peak and the United States and the Soviet Union were racing to get control of extra-terrestrial militarization zones.  As the project progressed, however, the mission became more focused on building a space station for military reconnaissance.  Eventually, by 1969, the funds for the MOL had dried up and then President Nixon pushed to cancel the program to cut back on spending.  The more visible NASA Skylab project would receive some of the funding instead.

On this past February 12th the PBS program NOVA ran an episode called AstroSpies.  Coming out of college in 1967 the MOL was the very first project that my father worked on at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York.  He was on the project from 1967 until its cancellation in 1969.  Dad watched the show when it aired, completely by coincidence because the show he was planning to watch was a rerun and he just flipped over to Nova, and even recognized one of the engineering models shown on the show as having come from his drafter!

The NOVA episode AstroSpies can be viewed online.  Dad was involved in the training of some of the USAF Astronauts as well.  He helped to train Colonel Albert Crews and Colonel Richard Lawyer.

1 thought on “Manned Orbiting Laboratory MOL”

  1. In 1969, I was a technician with Kodak working in Bldg 601 on Lee Rd. in Rochester. I was involved with the MOL program in that my department maintained the instrumentation used in it’s development.
    I’ve always wondered if there exists any information regarding Kodak’s work on the project.
    Sincerely,
    Floyd Stearns (festearns@gmail.com)

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