Declassified documents and a documentary program unveiled the details of a secret spy mission that NASA planned to launch shortly after the Cold War. The mission largely involved deploying spies into space.
Details about the clandestine mission were discussed in the "NASA's Unexplained Files" of the Discovery Channel. The agency itself also released articles discussing the details of the mission.
NASA's Secret Spy Mission
The mission, dubbed as Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), was introduced to the public in 1963 right after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which almost sent Russia and the US into an all-out nuclear war. It was disguised as an orbiting platform that would assist NASA's missions to the Moon.
However, what the public initially did not know was that MOL was a joint mission between NASA and the U.S. Air Force. It involved deploying a crewed spacecraft into orbit to spy on the satellites of other countries. According to "NASA's Unexplained Files," the MOL was intended to launch spies into space so they could carry out reconnaissance missions on other satellites.
Spy Astronauts for the MOL
Aside from the declassified documents related to MOL, the program also revealed the two spacesuits that would have been used for the mission. The spacesuits were labeled with the codes 007 and 008. The appearance of the spacesuits was very strange at that time because their design and colors did not match the other spacesuits used in existing spaceflight programs such as Apollo, Mercury and Gemini.
"They were similar to ones worn in the Sixties, but they were blue, which was not used in the US space programmer," National Security Analyst Tom Nichols said according to Express.
According to NASA, the astronauts who were selected to spearhead the MOL mission were Robert Crippen and Richard Lawyer, who both served as pilots for the U.S. Air Force. Despite the preparations carried out for the MOL, the mission was canceled in 1969. Both NASA and the Air Force decided to scrap the mission after learning modern automated satellites could achieve the same objectives as space-based spies.