Space pens have always captured the imagination of audiences across the globe, from the American sitcom Seinfield to Professor Viru Sahastrabudhhe’s pen in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 idiots.
While many believe that it is impossible for a pen to be used in zero gravity, or that cosmonauts could’ve simply used a pencil, there are others who believe that space agencies spent tones of money to invent such an object.
Here are some interesting facts about these Pens.
Are Space Pens real?
Yes, not only are the pens real and in use, but these are also on display in space museums and in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The pens have been used on every crewed NASA mission since Apollo 7 and dozens are currently aboard the International Space Station.
The Fisher Space Pen made its first debut on television in 1968 when commander of the Apollo 7 mission, Walter Schirra demonstrated its weightlessness by blowing on a pen to control its movement as it floated around the capsule.
This technology was recognized by the Space Foundation in 2021 for improving life on earth, joining 80 other technologies in NASA’s Hall of Fame.
Why can’t astronauts just use a pencil in Space?
Pencils could easily break off and float away, creating a hazard to astronauts and sensitive electronics on space crafts, which is why these pens have been in use since 1969.
Testing Space Pens
NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center, now Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, extensively tested these pens and found that these pens worked in all positions, temperature extremities and in various atmospheric ranges right from pure oxygen to vacuum. They even held enough ink to draw a line more than 3 miles long, when NASA’s actual requirement was just about half a kilometer.
They then accelerated the pen’s development from a prototype to an actually safe and reliable product which is what they are known for.
Are these pens in use today?
At present, there are over 80 models of Fisher Space Pens. Fisher Pen Company has distributors in 52 countries but still makes all its pens in Boulder City, where more than 60 employees produce more than a million pens each year.
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