Author Topic: MOL discussion  (Read 157796 times)

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #400 on: 11/09/2015 01:45 PM »
Where there any experiments done on one of the Gemini flights concerning MOL?

At least some of the experiments that were originally planned for MOL, such as the maneuvering unit, were transferred over to Gemini. I don't know when or why all that happened, but it may be in the documents that were released.

Aah. I had always wondered why the AMU flew on 9a. Was this already a long known fact that it was linked to MOL or did this just came public on the recent release of MOL documents?

Known for a long time. I have a list of original MOL experiments that I think I posted up-thread. It was one of the original ones on there.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #401 on: 11/10/2015 05:45 AM »
Well... I will just add that the AMU, as the major Air Force engineering experiment planned as part of mainline Gemini, was also a legacy of a pre-MOL attempt by DoD to engineer Gemini into a half-NASA, half-Air Force program.  With alternating flights being manned by NASA and Air Force crews, no less.  This trial balloon was quickly shot down pretty thoroughly, but it left as a legacy a joint NASA/Air Force Experiments Planning Board (downgraded from the original board that was supposed to jointly manage the entire program), which primarily worked on getting AMU and a few more minor Air Force/DoD experiments onto the Gemini flight program.

So, even had MOL never been approved and funded as a program, I'm thinking that AMU would have been included in the Gemini program anyway.  Hard to say, though, how hard the Air Force would have pushed for it had they known that MOL would never fly.

Other DoD experiments during Gemini likely were in direct support of MOL development and planning, though.  I recall one experiment, that was flown on at least two flights, in which one of the crew would try and locate ground features by naked eye, and the other would try to locate the same features through a video camera/monitor system.  That sounds like a pretty well-directed experiment to determine whether or not a planned MOL video monitoring (or perhaps sighting) system would give fine enough resolution for the MOL crews to find it useful, as opposed to needing to develop some kind of purely optical sighting system.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Proponent

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #402 on: 11/10/2015 09:47 AM »
I believe the Titan 34D was based on components developed for MOL's Titan 3M.

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #403 on: 12/09/2015 12:01 AM »
McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co (MDAC) was a major contractor for
the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and also for the Apollo Applications Program (AAP)
which became Skylab.

On November 5, 1969 there were Congressional hearings where MDAC was questioned
about the cancellation of MOL and the transfer of MOL hardware to the AAP program.

Here's a link to a printed copy of those congressional hearings. I have also
included a a graphic slide and testimony text concerning the transfer of
MOL hardware to the AAP program (pages 330 and 331).

Google scanned the document and it is available at the Hathi Trust website.
This may only be viewable from within the U.S. due to copyright issues.

Link to congressional hearing testimony about MDAC transfer of MOL hardware to AAP - page 325 to 331
http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112104054538;view=1up;seq=335

Online Archibald

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #404 on: 12/09/2015 07:26 AM »
Quote
Hathi Trust website

Looks like a treasure trove, I have to do some extended research through it
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #405 on: 12/11/2015 12:37 AM »
Manned Orbiting Laboratory Launch facilities...

Hearing, Eighty-ninth Congress, second session, February 24, 1966,

"Launch facilities for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program." 81 pages

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b642824;view=1up;seq=5
« Last Edit: 12/11/2015 12:38 AM by Antilope7724 »

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #406 on: 05/11/2016 07:44 PM »
Does anybody remember seeing any mention of the "DONKEY" payload in the MOL documents? D ONKEY was a comint payload that was started as part of MOL, but then removed from MOL and flown on an Agena signals intelligence satellite instead. I have some material on it, but I'm trying to remember if any of the 800-plus MOL documents refer to DONKEY. Any tips?


« Last Edit: 05/12/2016 10:51 AM by Jester »

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #407 on: 05/12/2016 02:31 AM »
Does anybody remember seeing any mention of the "D ONKEY" payload in the MOL documents? D ONKEY was a comint payload that was started as part of MOL, but then removed from MOL and flown on an Agena signals intelligence satellite instead. I have some material on it, but I'm trying to remember if any of the 800-plus MOL documents refer to D ONKEY. Any tips?



A Google search brought up this PDF document that mentions DONKEY AND DORIAN  on the same page of an intelligence report, but in this document, they appear to be separate projects.

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/aftrack/51.pdf

Here is a PDF document that mentions DONKEY and MOL.

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/aftrack/49.pdf

Mention of DONKEY and MOL on PDF page 18 (document page 136):

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/aftrack/56.pdf
« Last Edit: 05/12/2016 10:51 AM by Jester »

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #408 on: 05/12/2016 03:52 AM »
Thanks. I've got those. They are from the AFTRACK collection. I'm wondering if there is something in the MOL document collection that I've missed.

DONKEY is a bit confusing based upon those sources. The history indicates that it started as a MOL program and was then spun off. But document 49 above implies that it may have been parallel or augmenting the MOL sigint program. I think it was the former, and that the document is simply badly worded.

Note that DONKEY had a 6-foot parabolic dish and the SQUARE TWENTY comint payload had a 10-foot parabolic dish.
« Last Edit: 05/12/2016 10:52 AM by Jester »

Offline Ronpur50

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #409 on: 07/22/2016 10:02 PM »
Mike Jenne, author of the Blue Gemini novels took a trip to Huntsville and photographed the adapter for the Gemini-B mockup.  It is sitting in the grass with a bunch of weeds growing inside of it.  He is hoping to organize a restoration, and perhaps it can be reunited with it's capsule mockup in Dayton. 

http://mikejennebooks.com/gemini_b_pics.htm

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #410 on: 08/23/2016 09:09 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3049/1

Through the looking glass
by Dwayne Day
Monday, August 22, 2016

The Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) was expensive, especially for a military space program that was already expanding rapidly in the 1960s while the Vietnam War was ramping up. Although nowhere near as pricey as Apollo, MOL was still a substantial expenditure, involving the procurement of a major optical system, human spaceflight systems—including Gemini spacecraft—and new large rockets to boost MOL into orbit. By the time it was canceled in summer 1969, MOL’s price tag had doubled to more than $3 billion, and its schedule had repeatedly slipped.

When it was canceled, program officials sought out potential customers of the MOL hardware that had already been built. MOL officials within the secret National Reconnaissance Office that was responsible for it made inquiries to NASA offering their hardware and large optics technology, trying to make lemonade out of the lemons of the cancellation decision. Among the most expensive and unique pieces of MOL hardware were more than half a dozen large mirrors that were a key component in MOL’s large KH-10 DORIAN camera system.

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #411 on: 08/23/2016 09:58 PM »
I should add that a little bird gave me the idea to write that article. I wrote an article about MOL and the MMT back in 2009:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1371/1

That was long before the October 2015 MOL declassification. When the NRO declassified a bunch of MOL documents, among them were a bunch about what to do with MOL hardware. There was also a document about Project COLT, which was the proposal to use the MOL mirrors in a ground-based telescope. I saw those documents at the time and thought they were interesting, but somebody reminded me of them and so I decided to write an article.

The connection between reconnaissance programs and astronomy is worth further attention.

Online Archibald

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #412 on: 08/24/2016 11:20 AM »
The key person that connected MOL to MMT was Aden Meinel. I wonder how he handled all that highly classified secrecy surrounding the NRO, an agency which was known to exist since the 70's but was only revealed by the U.S government in 1992.

It would be interesting to known what legal punishment would have happened to someone revealing the NRO existence and details to the outside world (I don't mean a Soviet spy, rather a poor shmo telling too much to his family or friends by mistake)
National trahison ?

(by the way, was disclosure of the NRO allowed by the end of Cold War ? I mean, had Cold War not stopped, would the NRO very existence remained classified ?)
« Last Edit: 08/24/2016 11:22 AM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #413 on: 08/24/2016 12:20 PM »
It would be interesting to known what legal punishment would have happened to someone revealing the NRO existence and details to the outside world (I don't mean a Soviet spy, rather a poor shmo telling too much to his family or friends by mistake)
National trahison ?

(by the way, was disclosure of the NRO allowed by the end of Cold War ? I mean, had Cold War not stopped, would the NRO very existence remained classified ?)

Several things:

-If a contractor who had access to the NRO revealed the existence of the NRO publicly during the Cold War, the most likely punishment would have been revoking security clearances and firing the employee. Only if they revealed a lot of information would they have been arrested. There is always the desire of the government to minimize how much information gets revealed and how public everything is. Usually they wanted to bury the issue, not draw attention to it. With rare exceptions.

-Like many of these issues (Area 51 is a great case) people don't realize that with declassification it is rarely like night and day, off and on--it is almost never the case that nothing is known or public, and then suddenly the government declassifies something. So in the case of the NRO, the existence of satellite reconnaissance had been publicly revealed by the U.S. government in the later 1970s. I think that the name of the organization was also publicly revealed then as well. So there was government confirmation of this stuff (not just leaks) long before 1992. Same was true of the KH-11, which was mentioned in publicly released documents long before it started showing up in NRO brochures. (Area 51 is the same way--there were actually press releases about the Groom Lake base in the 1950s. It was not a complete dark secret.)


Online gosnold

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #414 on: 08/24/2016 06:12 PM »
Interesting, as said in the article the NRO may have been using this as a proof of concept for segmented apertures, as a precursor to the segmented mirror space telescope demonstrator:
http://www.nps.edu/About/News/NPS-New-Home-for-Giant-Segmented-Mirror-Space-Telescope-.html

Offline Hoonte

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #415 on: 10/14/2016 10:11 AM »
Maybe a bit side tracking but is this a mol suit? From a 1991 documentary at 27:40




Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #416 on: 03/20/2018 04:34 PM »
The measure of a man: Evaluating the role of astronauts in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (part 1)
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, March 19, 2018

http://thespacereview.com/article/3456/1


The Manned Orbiting Laboratory program was formally initiated by President Lyndon Johnson in August 1965, although MOL had been under low-key development since early 1964. Johnson publicly announced the program, justifying it in rather generic terms. According to Johnson, MOL was intended to determine if astronauts could perform militarily useful missions in space, without specifying what military missions the Air Force was interested in. The first group of MOL astronauts was announced in November 1965, and they quickly disappeared from public view. But what has never been fully answered is exactly what the MOL astronauts would do in orbit. Until now, their specific tasks—and the reason for putting them into space in the first place—have been shrouded in secrecy.

While the public justification for MOL was vague, and publicly it was an Air Force program, MOL had a secret but clearly defined mission, and a secret sponsor: the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). MOL would carry a powerful reconnaissance camera, code-named DORIAN, bigger than any optical system yet developed for space. The two astronauts onboard would point the camera at specific targets with higher precision than automatic systems could then accomplish. They would adjust the system and decide if the target was of sufficient interest to photograph, and they would also report what they saw to the ground. The astronauts would fly into orbit inside a modified Gemini spacecraft mounted atop the MOL laboratory, which featured a pressurized living compartment and a large unpressurized “equipment” compartment that housed the optical system.

A few months after MOL entered development, program managers decided to also develop an unmanned version of MOL, replacing the pressurized laboratory and Gemini spacecraft with a forward section carrying several smaller reentry vehicles that would be filled with exposed film. The purpose of the unmanned system would be a sort of insurance policy in case political considerations made a manned reconnaissance platform unacceptable. This decision naturally raised the question of why astronauts were needed at all if MOL could operate without them.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2018 09:17 PM by Blackstar »

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #417 on: 03/27/2018 12:48 AM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3461/1

The measure of a man: Evaluating the role of astronauts in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (part 2)

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, March 26, 2018


In May 1966, the MOL program office produced a fast-track study evaluating the value of astronauts aboard the Manned Orbiting Laboratory in low Earth orbit. MOL was started in August 1965 and by the end of that year had evolved into both manned and unmanned spacecraft equipped with the same powerful camera system known as DORIAN. A group of Air Force officers in the program office had sought to determine and explain why astronauts were needed at all if it was possible to build the spacecraft to operate without them. They concluded that astronauts still had important roles to play in various aspects of MOL operations, particularly achieving full mission success early in the program compared to the unmanned MOL, which would require multiple missions before achieving mission success and reliability (see “The measure of a man (part 1)”, The Space Review, March 19, 2018).

Throughout 1966 and 1967 the MOL spacecraft design began to take shape. Engineers at Douglas, which was designing the spacecraft; Eastman Kodak, which was designing the DORIAN optical system; and numerous other contractors responsible for various subsystems were refining their designs and determining how astronauts would operate the spacecraft. McDonnell was working on the Gemini-B, a modified version of NASA’s Gemini spacecraft, and they merged with Douglas in April 1967. The companies were building increasingly higher-fidelity mockups of the major systems to work out how the astronauts would operate the spacecraft and its many subsystems.

One of the primary recommendations of the May 1966 report was that the program office should undertake formal studies to quantify the value of man in the MOL program and stop making vague guesses: prove it, rather than assert it. By summer 1967, numerous studies were underway or completed and the program office produced another, significantly updated report on the value of astronauts for the MOL reconnaissance mission. The report, “Contributions of Man in the MOL Program,” provides substantial insight into exactly what the Air Force, and the secretive National Reconnaissance Office, expected military astronauts to do aboard the orbiting space station.

After all the simulation and modeling and hardware development, the role of the astronauts on MOL was much better defined. Their tasks fell into two main categories: optimizing and maintaining the camera system and operating it to maximize the intelligence that could be collected. One of the most important responsibilities for the astronauts was focusing the powerful DORIAN camera that was at the heart of the spacecraft and its mission.

Online Archibald

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #418 on: 03/27/2018 07:26 AM »
Ok, so that's the main difference between KH-8 and KH-10. Same resolution (4 inch) but KH-10 has the astronauts with some real role to play in the system, albeit limited and at a very high cost.

This article is interesting because it shows the Air Force tackling that very old question: is man-in-space useful in any way ? what astronauts can do a Gambit can't ?
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Online Blackstar

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Re: MOL discussion
« Reply #419 on: 03/27/2018 12:42 PM »
Ok, so that's the main difference between KH-8 and KH-10. Same resolution (4 inch) but KH-10 has the astronauts with some real role to play in the system, albeit limited and at a very high cost.


Yes and no. In 1967, it was expected that KH-8 GAMBIT-3 would probably have about 1-foot resolution. DORIAN was planned to have 4-6 inch resolution. GAMBIT-3 eventually got down to about 2.5 inches, but that was with fine-tuning.

There is an accidentally-declassified document that states that GAMBIT-3 got to 4 inches, but I know somebody whose job at one point included doing ground-truth measurements for GAMBIT-3 late in the program, meaning that he looked at the photos and then looked at the actual test objects on the ground that appeared in the photos. He said that's how they determined the ~2.5-inch maximum.


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