Ineffective NASA and resourceful USSR: how the popular myth about the creation of the space pen appeared and what they write in space

The usual pen in space does not work because of weightlessness, so I had to reinvent it.

In the 1960s, writing something in space was a separate issue. At first pencils were used for this: in the USSR they were ordinary, and in the USA they were mechanical. However, American pencils were worth $ 1000 per piece in terms of the course of 2018 – they had to be refined for use in space suits and they were produced piece pieces.

At the same time, the Soviet cosmonauts switched to wax crayons and felt-tip pens due to the fact that the graphite core of pencils could cause problems with electronics. Both replacement options were not without flaws: crayons crumbled, and markers could dry out, but they were cheap.

This quickly became known to the public, in the press, NASA was accused of inefficiency. Amid media reports , an urban legend has arisen that the US space agency spends millions of dollars on the development of the “space pen”, while cheap pencils are used in the communist USSR.

In fact, the “cosmic” pen was invented by the American inventor Paul Fisher without the help or financing of NASA. Fisher was the owner of the company that produced the pens and decided to independently develop a pen writing in space.

He spent a million dollars from his own funds and created the AG-7 – a pen operating in zero gravity. The main innovation was the supply of ink under pressure and their special composition – in the normal state, they remain solid, and are thinned by writing.

Due to this, AG-7 can write in extreme conditions compared to ordinary pens: at temperatures from -35 to +120 degrees Celsius, at any angle, under water, on greasy paper, and also at altitudes up to 3800 meters. It is alleged that the pen can work for 100 years.

Fisher sent the invention to NASA and offered to test it. The agency was satisfied and sent the handle on the first flight in 1968 with the Apollo-7 mission.

Shortly thereafter, the Fisher Space Pen switched to the Soviet Union and began to be used everywhere in space. Compared to NASA pencils, the Fisher pen cost only $ 6 and worked even in a vacuum.

For 2018, the Fisher company still exists and remains a family business – it is managed by the descendants of the inventor. The Fisher Space Pen still producestens of millions of pens per year, each manually assembled in Boulder City, Nevada. The company employs 65 people.

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