How NASA Takes Notes in Space

NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham Writes With Fisher Space Pen

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NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham composes with a Fisher Space Pen throughout the flight of Apollo 7, the very first crewed Apollo flight and the Space Pen’s very first journey to area. The pens have actually been utilized on every NASA human spaceflight objective because. Credit: NASA

The Space Pen has actually recorded the American creativity in more methods than one. It’s appeared consistently in popular culture and even worked as a plot gadget in a “Seinfeld” episode entitled “The Pen,” and in 2021 was inducted into the Space Technology Hall ofFame It’s likewise the topic of a misconception that the area company invested millions to develop a pen that can compose in no gravity, while cosmonauts just utilized a pencil.

Let’s get to the realities about the Space Pen, pencils in area, and how NASA astronauts compose aboard the spaceport station.

Apollo 7 Mission Commander Walter Schirra

In among the very first live video transmissions from an American spacecraft, Apollo 7 objective leader Walter Schirra shows no gravity by blowing on a SpacePen Credit: NASA

Is the Space Pen a genuine thing?

Yes, it is. The Fisher Space Pen made its tv launching in October 1968, as Apollo 7 objective leader Walter Schirra showed weightlessness by blowing on a pen to manage its motion as it drifted about the pill. It was among the very first live video transmissions from an American spacecraft. Since then, Space Pens have actually appeared in tv programs from “Mad Men” and “Gilmore Girls” to “How it’s 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 innovation was acknowledged by the Space Foundation as a development established for area that now enhances life on Earth, signing up with around 80 other innovations in the company’s Hall of Fame.

Why not simply utilize a pencil?

NASA desired an alternative to pencils due to the fact that the lead might quickly break off and drift away, developing a risk to astronauts and delicate electronic devices on the spacecraft. Cosmonauts likewise have actually been utilizing Space Pens because 1969. Z9BP0

Did it cost taxpayers millions?

No Paul Fisher at the Fisher Pen Company had actually currently been dealing with a pressurized pen. That stated, it likely would never ever have actually reached the heights it did, in orbit or in appeal, without NASA’s screening.

“The original ballpoints were terrible,” stated Cary Fisher, Paul’s boy, and present president of the business, which is now situated in Boulder City,Nevada He keeps in mind that the early ballpoints tended to leakage, avoid, and dry up.

Paul Fisher Founder of Fisher Pen Company

Fisher Pen Company creator Paul Fisher commemorates the business’s 50 th anniversary, showing different designs of the Space Pen he created. Credit: Fisher Pen Company

To resolve the issue, his daddy, who had actually currently created the very first universal ink cartridge refill, was dealing with a sealed cartridge with pressurized nitrogen on top pressing a small piston versus the ink. But the pressure triggered the pens to leakage.

When NASA connected to him searching for a pen that didn’t need gravity, he understood this pressurized ink cartridge might be simply the important things– if he might resolve the leakages. With NASA’s interest stimulating him on, he lastly prospered when he included resin to the ink to make it “thixotropic”– practically strong up until friction with the ball at the point of the pen melted it. He called the outcome the AG7, for anti-gravity, and sent out a number of to NASA.

NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center, now Johnson Space Center in Houston, evaluated the pens thoroughly. The area company discovered the pens operated in all positions, in severe cold and heat, and in environments varying from pure oxygen to vacuum. And they held sufficient ink to draw a strong line more than 3 miles long– well beyond NASA’s half-kilometer (.3- mile) ink requirement.

That screening sped up the pen’s advancement from a model to a safe, dependable item.

Once it had actually flown in area, Paul selected the name SpacePen “I thought it was a terrible name,” his boy remembered. “I said it’s going to sound like a toy. But my father was right, as he often was.”

The pens are understood in part for their dependability, however they likewise pertained to represent American resourcefulness: an innovator and small company owner stepped up and resolved the pen issue while NASA concentrated on securely landing American astronauts on the Moon.

Paul and his boy continued improving the innovation and developing brand-new designs.

Do astronauts still utilize them?

The pens have actually been utilized on every crewed NASA objective because Apollo 7– lots are presently aboard the International Space Station.

Fisher Space Pen

The AG7 design was the extremely first Fisher SpacePen Credit: Fisher Pen Company

Is it just for area?

The Space Pen line now consists of about 80 designs.

While they are popular present products, Cary stated, they are specifically sought-after amongst members of the military and police, in addition to outside lovers, airplane makers, and oil employees, all of whom, like astronauts, value their capability to compose in any conditions.

Fisher Pen Company has suppliers in 52 nations however still makes all its pens in Boulder City, where more than 60 workers end up over a million pens a year.

NASA has a long history of moving innovation to the economic sector. The company’s Spinoff publication profiles NASA innovations that have actually changed into business services and products, showing the more comprehensive advantages of America’s financial investment in its area program. Spinoff is a publication of the Technology Transfer program in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

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