An artist’s concept of the Gemini-based Manned Orbiting Laboratory.
Image: NRO.

In 1965 on this date, President Johnson announced his approval for the Department of Defense’s $1.5 billion Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (MOL). Publicly, this was an Air Force program to place military personnel in orbit to conduct scientific experiments. The classified, actual mission of the MOL program, however, was to place a manned surveillance satellite into orbit. More information about MOL – as well as a vast collection of declassified files related to it –  can be found at the National Reconnaissance Office’s pages here.