NASA's Space Pens

Surely you've heard that old joke about the American and Soviet and space programs:

During the space race back in the 1960's, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the "Astronaut Pen". Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a pencil.

The story is often passed along as true, but was it really? Well, no, because real life doesn't lend itself so well to a punch line. Jason Kottke looked up the real story behind what astronauts and cosmonauts used to make notes in space. There actually was a "space pen," but you may be surprised as who made them, who paid for them, and how much they really cost. And believe it or not, you can buy one for yourself!

(Image credit: Fisher Pens)

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