Model, Manned Orbiting Laboratory, 1:48

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This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

James S. McDonnell Space Hangar

This is a 1:48 scale model of the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL), designed by the U.S. Air Force to be a space-based reconnaissance platform for long-duration missions. After being launched into Earth orbit onboard a Gemini capsule by a Titan rocket, the crew of two astronauts would enter the attached laboratory module. Missions would last two to four weeks. The Gemini capsule with crew would then detach from the MOL and return to Earth, while the laboratory module would remain in orbit. When it became clear that reconnaissance satellites like Corona could do the same job at less cost and without hazard to humans, Project MOL was cancelled in the late 1960s. McDonnell Douglas made this model and Howard DeVorkin donated it to NASM in 1986.