Newly released documents reveal a wide variety of duties for the classified Air Force project, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL). Credit: NRO

Newly released documents reveal a wide variety of duties for the classified Air Force project, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL).
Credit: NRO

A mother lode of information – documents, pictures and a film – has been released by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The material focuses on the classified Cold War U.S. Air Force project known as the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL).

Among duties of MOL crews included satellite reconnaissance activities called Project Dorian, but other tasks were considered.

Credit: NRO

Credit: NRO

 

According to the NRO, MOL was a 1960s Air Force program “with the ostensible mission to place military personnel in orbit to conduct scientific experiments to determine the ‘military usefulness’ of placing man into space and the techniques and procedures for doing so if the need ever arose.”

“The Air Force controlled development of the satellite, which was consistent with MOL’s unclassified mission, while the NRO ran development of the covert reconnaissance mission of the program, including the camera system and other subsystems,” according to the NRO.

Credit: NRO

Credit: NRO

 

At the start of the program in December 1963 until its cancellation in June 1969 the MOL program spent $1.56 billion, but never launched a manned vehicle into space.

MOL-assigned duties included underwater trial-runs of astronaut mobility. Credit: NRO

MOL-assigned duties included underwater trial-runs of astronaut mobility.
Credit: NRO

 

 

 

 

The NRO release of MOL information was timed for an event held on October 22 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

Former MOL crew members took part in the event under the title: “The Dorian Files Revealed: The Manned Orbiting Laboratory Crew Members’ Secret Mission in Space.”

For an informative account of the Wright-Patterson event, go to:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local-military/astronauts-come-to-museum-to-discuss-space-program/nn76j/

To begin your digging into 20,681 pages of released documents on MOL, along with pictures and other resources, go to:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/MOL.html

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