Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) (1969)
About the Design
An outgrowth of the X-20 Dyna-Soar program, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) was a United States Air Force project designed to establish a semi-permanent military presence in low orbit. Announced in 1963, the program was designed to put two-man crews in orbit in 40-day shifts using modified Gemini B spacecraft. (The most significant modification was the addition of a circular hatch in the heat shield that would allow astronauts to move from the Gemini return vehicle into the main laboratory.) From orbit, the astronauts would conduct detailed military reconnaissance missions to keep tabs on the Soviet Union and other perceived enemies.
The MOL program was cancelled in 1969 when the Air Force realized it could get the same results far cheaper using unmanned reconnaissance satellites.
About the Kit
Fantastic Plastic's Manned Orbiting Laboratory kit was designed in CAD by Scott Lowther based on the MOL's late 1960s configuration. It did not, however, include solar panels, which NASA added later. The kit included two stands to help display the massive model.