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The Space Pen Myth

Roberta takes a look at the old tome that “NASA spent millions to develop a space pen; the Russians just use pencils.” It never seemed to me that, in the pure oxygen environment used in early spacecraft, or really even in spacecraft today, it was a good idea to have little bits of broken off conductive, flammable graphite floating around among a lot of electrical equipment. The Russians may have used pencils, but they also didn’t care as much for the lives of their astronauts. Failures could be swept under the rug.

4 Responses to “The Space Pen Myth”

  1. Sage Thrasher says:

    Very cool story. Thanks for that.

  2. Braden Lynch says:

    Remember the “Kursk” sinking due to use of outdated torpedoes to shave a little off the price tag…beware the weakest link.

  3. DirtCrashr says:

    Flammable (bits of) graphite floating around among a lot of electrical equipment (sic)… Hell, the Salyut 3 had a Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 23mm rapid-fire cannon mounted on the outside, and the Soyuz space-ferry survival kit included a bizzaro three-barrel pistol/carbine and ammunition! Damn Russkie-Cowboyskis!

  4. denton says:

    The actual story is a bit different from that, and funnier.

    NASA did not spend millions to develop a space pen. It was developed by Fisher Space Pen which is still very much in business in Boulder City, NV. They are a client of ours.

    The true story is that a high level Russian was in a meeting in the US, and was bragging about the wonderful pen Russia had developed… wrote in space, upside down, in heat, in cold, etc. His speech came to kind of a quick halt when the owner and inventor of the space pen stood up, introduced himself, and informed the Russian that the pens had been bought from his company in the US.

    Their pens are absolutely the coolest pens available. They write incredibly smoothly, and are very well made. I’ve had a lot of pens, and won’t use anything else anymore. We’re giving them for Christmas gifts this year.

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