Today’s blog, will be casting light on whether astronauts can write in space and explaining all about the “space pen”……
A story on the internet which was soon discovered to be myth was that NASA scientists figured that a pen couldn’t work in space, so they spent millions of dollars on creating a pen that could be written with, in space while their Soviet equivalent used an ordinary pencil. This story, as stated before is just a rumor that has been going on in the internet for too long.
The truth, however, is that the NASA astronauts too thought of using a pencil. So, in 1965, NASA purchased 34 mechanical pencils from Houston’s Tycam Engineering Manufacturing, Inc. for an amount of $ 128. 89 per pencil. When the public got hold of this piece of information, there was an uproar and NASA had to find something cheaper for it’s astronauts to use.
The pencil, though, was not a standard choice for writing in space as it’s graphite led could freeze, break off and float in microgravity with the possible chance of harming an astronaut or damaging a piece of equipment. Besides, pencils are flammable and NASA wanted to avoid anything flammable aboard a spacecraft. And regular pens couldn’t work on space either because, on Earth the ink from the cartridge flows to the nib due to gravity but since there is zero percent gravity in space, a pen couldn’t function properly in space.
Finally, there was a solution. During the time NASA was entangled in the mechanical pencils strife, Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen. Co created a ballpoint pen that could work in space. His company invested one million dollars to design, fund and patent the pen. The pen surprisingly, operated not just in space but also in a weightless environment, underwater, (in other liquids), and in temperatures varying from -50 F to +400 F (-45.5555556 C to 204.444444 C).
Over the years, Fisher’s company has been manufacturing different types of space pens which are still used by NASA and Soviet space agency.