NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham composes with a Fisher Space Pen during the flight of Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight and the Space Pens first journey to area. The pens have actually been utilized on every NASA human spaceflight mission since. Credit: NASA
The Space Pen has caught the American creativity in more ways than one. Its appeared consistently in pop culture and even worked as a plot device in a “Seinfeld” episode titled “The Pen,” and in 2021 was inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. Its also the subject of a myth that the space company spent millions to create a pen that can compose in absolutely no gravity, while cosmonauts simply used a pencil.
Lets get to the facts about the Space Pen, pencils in area, and how NASA astronauts compose aboard the area station.
In one of the very first live video transmissions from an American spacecraft, Apollo 7 objective commander Walter Schirra shows zero gravity by blowing on a Space Pen. Credit: NASA
Is the Space Pen a real thing?
Yes, it is. The Fisher Space Pen made its tv debut in October 1968, as Apollo 7 objective commander Walter Schirra demonstrated weightlessness by blowing on a pen to manage its motion as it floated about the pill. It was one of the very first live video transmissions from an American spacecraft. Ever since, Space Pens have appeared in television shows from “Mad Men” and “Gilmore Girls” to “How its Made.” The pens are on display screen in area museums and in the irreversible collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 2021, the technology was recognized by the Space Foundation as a development developed for space that now improves life in the world, joining around 80 other technologies in the organizations Hall of Fame.
Why not simply use a pencil?
NASA wanted an alternative to pencils due to the fact that the lead might easily break off and drift away, producing a risk to astronauts and delicate electronic devices on the spacecraft. Cosmonauts also have actually been utilizing Space Pens considering that 1969.
NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham composes with a Fisher Space Pen during the flight of Apollo 7, the very first crewed Apollo flight and the Space Pens very first trip to area. The Fisher Space Pen made its television launching in October 1968, as Apollo 7 objective commander Walter Schirra showed weightlessness by blowing on a pen to manage its motion as it floated about the capsule. Paul Fisher at the Fisher Pen Company had already been working on a pressurized pen. NASAs Manned Spacecraft Center, now Johnson Space Center in Houston, tested the pens thoroughly. Once it had actually flown in area, Paul chose on the name Space Pen.
Did it cost taxpayers millions?
No. Paul Fisher at the Fisher Pen Company had already been working on a pressurized pen. That said, it likely would never have reached the heights it did, in orbit or in popularity, without NASAs screening.
” The initial ballpoints were awful,” stated Cary Fisher, Pauls boy, and existing president of the company, which is now located in Boulder City, Nevada. He notes that the early ballpoints tended to leak, skip, and dry up.
Fisher Pen Company founder Paul Fisher commemorates the businesss 50th anniversary, displaying numerous designs of the Space Pen he created. Credit: Fisher Pen Company
To fix the problem, his daddy, who had already developed the first universal ink cartridge refill, was working on a sealed cartridge with pressurized nitrogen on top pushing a tiny piston versus the ink. However the pressure caused the pens to leakage.
When NASA connected to him looking for a pen that didnt require gravity, he understood this pressurized ink cartridge might be just the thing– if he might fix the leakages. With NASAs interest spurring him on, he finally was successful when he included resin to the ink to make it “thixotropic”– practically strong until friction with the ball at the point of the pen liquefied it. He called the outcome the AG7, for anti-gravity, and sent several to NASA.
NASAs Manned Spacecraft Center, now Johnson Space Center in Houston, checked the pens thoroughly. The space agency discovered the pens worked in all positions, in extreme heat and cold, and in environments ranging from pure oxygen to vacuum. And they held enough ink to draw a strong line more than three miles long– well beyond NASAs half-kilometer (.3- mile) ink requirement.
That testing accelerated the pens development from a prototype to a safe, trustworthy item.
Once it had actually flown in area, Paul chose on the name Space Pen. “I believed it was an awful name,” his boy recalled.
The pens are known in part for their reliability, but they likewise came to represent American ingenuity: a creator and small company owner stepped up and solved the pen problem while NASA focused on securely landing American astronauts on the Moon.
Paul and his son continued refining the innovation and creating new designs.
Do astronauts still utilize them?
The pens have been utilized on every crewed NASA objective given that Apollo 7– dozens are currently aboard the International Space Station.
The AG7 model was the extremely first Fisher Space Pen. Credit: Fisher Pen Company
Is it just for area?
The Space Pen line now comprises about 80 models.
While they are popular gift products, Cary said, they are particularly in-demand amongst members of the military and police, in addition to outside enthusiasts, aircraft producers, and oil employees, all of whom, like astronauts, appreciate their ability to compose in any conditions.
Fisher Pen Company has suppliers in 52 countries but still makes all its pens in Boulder City, where more than 60 employees end up over a million pens a year.
NASA has a long history of moving innovation to the economic sector. The agencys Spinoff publication profiles NASA technologies that have transformed into industrial product or services, demonstrating the wider benefits of Americas financial investment in its space program. Spinoff is a publication of the Technology Transfer program in NASAs Space Technology Mission Directorate.