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

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 20:02:24 MDT wrote:
> Alright guys, you are treading into my territory here -- 1960s manned
> spaceflight trivia. MOL was an AIR FORCE project; otherwise Michael got the
> general idea right. It was NOT an Agena.

Sorry, it was based on the Agena chassis, originally. Seems there were numerous
design changes.

> This makes it clear in pictures:
> (BTW, Dan Roam's site above, "Deep Cold" is, well, cool.) MOL (which was
> also called "KH 10") was cancelled when automation made mannning a really big
> surveillance platform unnecessary. The camera developed for MOL was used in
> the "Big Bird" KH 11 satellites
> More details can be found at Mark Wade's Encyclopaedia Astronautica;
> which is, BTW, the BEST source for info on manned space programs.

The thing is Greg, I've heard from several people who were Security Police and
ground crews at Vandenberg in the late 70's who all insist they had actually
launched MOL, that it was rather plain as day on various launch papers they
dealt with. Keeping the cover story of 'it was cancelled' seems to be a
recurring theme for cover stories in my experience in the USAF. That and the
double/triple cover of a) "no, it doesn't exist" and b) "pssst, btw, its really
an alien spaceship", followed by c) "if you saw it, you must be insane", were
the two recurring ones I saw when I was on active duty, depending on the level
of security needed, though the alien thing backfired on them and attracted more
attention instead... ;)

I notice on the sites you mention, they never mentioned in the subcontracting
details who did the cameras (which was Itek).

> And also, Mike, which Gemini mission actually swung a tethered Agena? (I'm
> not doubting you; I just don't recall this . . .)

Gemini 11 and 12, here's the links:
Gemini 11: Crew demonstrate tethering procedure at press conference:

and here's a link to a few pics from the missions:
Gemini 11: (after disconnect)
Gemini 12:

Though, I was incorrect in the length of the tether. It was only 100 feet long.
It seems to look a lot longer in the photos... must be the rear-view mirror
effect from the periscope... ;)

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