Yes, the space pen or Space Pen, in its original name, exists and this year it even entered the Space Technology Hall of Fame, but some of the stories surrounding it are far from true. Who says so is NASA.
The United States Space Agency completes the “myth” about the millions of US taxpayers’ dollars that the space pen will have cost with the information that it was developed, with private investment, by Paul Fisher, of the Fisher Pen Company.
NASA tested several prototypes “extensively” to confirm that the pen worked in all positions, in extreme heat and cold, and in atmospheres ranging from pure oxygen to vacuum. It was also confirmed that they had enough ink to “scratch” a solid line over three miles long – about 4.8 km – well above the 0.3 miles stipulated minimum – or 0.5 km.
Pencils were not an alternative as coal can easily break and float, posing a danger to astronauts and the spacecraft’s sensitive electronics.
Tests conducted by NASA helped to accelerate the development of Paul Fisher’s idea, and the space pen prototype turned out to be a safe and reliable product.
The Fisher Space Pen made its debut on the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, entitled to appear on television when commanding astronaut Walter Schirra demonstrated the lightness of the pen by blowing on it to control its movement as it floated across the ground capsule.
Since that time, space pens have been a regular presence on the US agency’s missions, “there are dozens of them currently aboard the International Space Station,” writes NASA. Reportedly, they have also been used by cosmonauts since 1969, when the charcoal pencils would have been abandoned for good.
Today, Space Pens are available in around 80 models, distributed in more than 50 countries, which, with their robust characteristics, are ideal for writing in other harsh environments besides space.
The space pen was recognized this year by the Space Foundation as an innovation developed for space that contributes to improving life on Earth, joining some 80 other technologies that are part of the organization’s Hall of Fame.