MOL == Agena? Re: Solutions to the Zero-G problem

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 10:13:01 MDT

Umm. I remember the Agena, and I remember the MOL project. I can't of
course prove that the Agenas *didn't* carry cameras, but can you give a
cite for Agena stages being called MOLs? As best I can recall, the MOL
was a Navy project, human habitable in design, final design had the
Gemini mated ass to the can with crew transfers through a porthole in
the heat shield; and never flew. As I recall, there were some
preliminary studies of twin-can "swinging" MOL-like designs, with a SNAP
nuke reactor at the "far" end. It seems oversilly to me for even the
'60s fedgov to name an Agena with a docking collar a Manned Orbiting

"Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:
> Tethers have been experimented with since the Gemini
> program (the Gemini capsules would hook up a tether to an Agena MOL, and reel
> out a couple hundred yards to induce a microgravity for experiments (and to
> properly eject film capsules from spy cameras on the Agena MOL for re-entry).

More than microgravity, in one case--though that was blamed on "stuck
thrusters"--later, the excuse was that the Gemini computer had the wrong
attitude control program loaded and tried to orient the Gemini-Agena
system as if it were just the Gemini. Oops. And that was with the two
hard docked.

I don't remember hearing about tethers at the time, either, but that
doesn't mean they didn't do it. It's an obvious thing to try. I'll do
some snooping on the NASA history sites and see what they say.

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