Encyclopedia Astronautica
1965.10.01 - Stanford Research Institute study on Douglas manned orbital research laboratory (MORL).

The Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, California, performed a study on a manned orbital research laboratory (MORL) for Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., Santa Monica. Major conclusions of the study included the following: The MORL mission was highly desirable for the posture of the United States in the international community. The improvement of this position would represent, perhaps, MORL's greatest contribution to our nation.

The greatest social benefits would come from fundamental research experiments and missions that would hold promise of great economic returns. Economic benefits likely to accrue from certain MORL experiments would range up to several hundred million dollars per year. A priority of MORL missions could be established; the highest ranking category contained selected fundamental research experiments and Earth-oriented application experiments arranged in order of decreasing anticipated economic payoffs. The great value of an MORL in comparison with (an) unmanned orbital station(s)-resided (1) in the vast complexity of tasks a man could perform reliably, e.g., research, and (2) in the efficiency of a man in collecting only pertinent information, again during the research phase. Man would provide a unique recognition element, and any response times involved in manned experiments would be equal to real time. The reliability of satellite experimentation that was initially very complicated could therefore be provided by manned missions at less than the prohibitive costs involved in unmanned missions.

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