Two beautiful daughters graced us at the dinner table in Milwaukee, “Marcie” and “Valerie.” Prompted by salary concerns, I left education to work again in aerospace. I trained six months at Honeywell in Minneapolis on a guidance & control system. Then we moved to California as technical support on the Air Force space program, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL).
The MOL was part of the United States Air Force’s human spaceflight program. MOL evolved into a single-use laboratory, for which crews would be launched on 40-day missions, and return to Earth using a Gemini B derived from NASA’s Gemini spacecraft.
The MOL program was announced to the public on 10 December 1963 as an inhabited platform to prove the utility of putting people in space for military missions. Astronauts selected for the program were later told of the secret reconnaissance mission. The prime contractor for the spacecraft was McDonnell Aircraft; the laboratory was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company(McDonnell-Douglas), and Honeywell provided the guidance and control (G&C).
Fig. 5.1 Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL)
The U.S. Air Force began work on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), an all-Air Force parallel of NASA’s Gemini efforts. The MOL included a modified Gemini capsule, as shown here, attached to a cylindrical laboratory and launched as one unit by a Titan IIIC booster.
The MOL never reached fruition, but much work was accomplished before being cancelled in June of 1969. The model, shown in Fig. 5.1 illustrates the configuration proposed for the MOL. The crew of two rode through lift-off in the modified Gemini capsule at the top of the spacecraft, and once in orbit entered the attached laboratory module. Flight duration was planned to be two to four weeks, after which the capsule was to be detached to reenter the earth’s atmosphere for landing. The MOL itself remained in orbit for later reuse.
During the 1960s, the MOL competed with the Vietnam War for funds and budget cuts repeatedly postponed the first operational flight. At the same time, automated systems rapidly improved, narrowing the benefits of a crewed space platform over an automated one. A single un-crewed test flight of the Gemini B spacecraft was conducted on 3 November 1966, but the test flight of the MOL was canceled in June 1969, as was my service on the MOL.
In California, a son (Daniel) and third daughter (Leslie) greeted us, before I was laid off with the three-year termination of the MOL. After jobs repairing TV’s, loading freight, and delivering newspapers, I gratefully accepted a teaching position in a high school, spending the next 8 years in secondary education. This strengthened my love for teaching, albeit the low wages as a school teacher. While so engaged, I pursued a masters degree in Industrial Education and published an electronics text for Prentice-hall (“Essentials of Semi-Conductor Circuits” 1976).
While teaching high school electronics, a job I loved, with a beautiful friend (wife) and four magnificent children, I found the following quote:
“It strikes me dumb to look over the long series of faces, such as any full church, courthouse, London tavern meeting, or miscellany of men will show them. Some score or two of years ago, all these were little red colored infants; each of them capable of being kneaded, baked into any social form you choose; yet see now how they are fixed and hardened – into artists, artisans, clergy, gentry, learned sergeants, unlearned dandies, and can and shall now be nothing else hence-forth.” Carlyle
From my personal journal dated 1979, I wrote the following:
“If the above is true, life is over for me. I don’t want life to be over for me. I must now look at my life. Set it in order to become what I want. I am 42, half through (God willing). But of greatest import is the idea that no one else cares what I become. Therefore, I can let no one else determine what I will be. It is my ball game. It is time to act, not react…”