Ohio Valley Soaceport

Ohio Valley Soaceport

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lost Opportunities: Missions That Never Flew-Part 2: Gemini/MOL

Gemini/MOL Titan III  Test Launch Vehicle: 11/3/1966
Announced to the public on December 10, 1963, the United States Air Force proposed it's Manned Orbiting Laboratory and Reconnaissance Platform following the cancellation of its Dyna Soar program. The project was developed from several early Air Force and NASA concepts of manned space stations to be used for reconnaissance purposes.

An artist conception of the U.S. Air Force proposed Gemini/ Manned Orbiting Lab 

The NASA Gemini spacecraft was selected as a manned "taxi" for Air Force astronauts The Air Force version was designed Gemini B and was externally similar to NASA's Gemini spacecraft, with  several modifications, including the addition of a circular hatch through the heat shield, which allowed passage between the spacecraft and the laboratory.

Gemini B Spacecraft

Cutaway diagram of the Gemini B

Illustration depicting the standard NASA Gemini interior (above) and the Air Force Gemini B with access hatch to the laboratory
Sadly, MOL was cancelled in 1969 when it was shown that unmanned reconnaissance satellites could achieve the same objectives much more cost-effectively.

Cutaway of  the Gemini B and Manned Orbiting Laboratory

There are a few examples of the Gemini B on display today. One at Cape Canaveral (Gemini 2) and the other at the Museum of the United States in Dayton, Ohio.

The Air Force Museum Gemini B

1/72 Scale Gemini/MOL based on the Dragon Gemini kit

When Dragon Models released their 1/72 scale Gemini Spacecraft earlier this year I made up my mind that at some point I wanted to build up a Gemini B/MOL variant for display. Taking the basic Dragon kit I shortened the adaptor module and "kit-bashed" a laboratory section to add to the Gemini. I used a hydrogen tank from the Monogram 1/32 scale Apollo service module as the core for the lab. The paint scheme was intended to depict the 1966 Titan III Gemini/MOL test vehicle.

Below are a few photos of the finished model.

LMV Studios Gemini Interior Detail Kit Quick Look

I recently acquired the Gemini Interior Kit by LMV Studios via CultTVman. Below is a quick look at the basic set. It is mostly made up of photo-etched brass and some basic plastic stock.  You can purchase this kit either directly from LMV: LMV 1/24 Gemini Detail Set or for US customers via CultTVman's Hobbyshop CultTVman's Hobby Shop

The kit comes with a CD-ROM with PDF file for instructions and a library of actual NASA photos of the interior of the Gemini spacecraft.

Plastic stock, brass wire, and templates

A close-up of the PE tree for the instrument panels.

A larger PE sheet with parts for the ejection seats, hatch details, and bulkhead  

I will have a full report on this nice kit in a future installment!

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