The Myth of the Billion-dollar Space Pen


"Everybody has heard of the infamous Space Pen.

Space has its urban legends of course, and the Million Dollar Space Pen
is one of the more enduring ones. It is neither as outlandish nor as
unbelievable as the story about faking the Moon landings, and even though it
seems more credible than a massive government conspiracy, it is probable that
fewer people have heard it.

The story goes like this: in the 1960s, NASA astronauts discovered that
their pens did not work in zero gravity. So like good engineers, they went to
work and designed a wonder pen. It worked upside down. It worked in vacuum. It
worked in zero gravity. It even worked underwater! And it only cost a million

The crafty Russians used a pencil…"

By Dwayne Day
The Space Review


[via the Moleskinerie/GOOGLEGROUPS]

9 thoughts on “The Myth of the Billion-dollar Space Pen

  1. And these pens (bullet version) are often quoted as a perfect match for a moleskine pocket book. They do look nice, and are extremely versatile. Thing is, they are still a fancy… ballpoint. With thick ink that blobs on the tip. There goes the “writing pleasure factor” out the window.

  2. This story is not exactly a myth, but it certainly is misleading.

    Pencils were the *first* thing NASA tried, and were abandoned because they posed a significant safety hazard. The lead would break off in little bits that floated about and could get caught in your eye or cause a short in electrical equipment. Also, pencils can burn rapidly in a 100% oxygen environment, which was a big no-no after the fire on Apollo 1.

  3. I got one a couple of months ago. It’s nice, but I wasn’t overwhelmed. Mine feels ‘heavy’ in my hand.

  4. I have one of those actually. It’s been sitting in a drawer for years, and just last night I found it as I was looking for something. Now that I look at it, it’s a very nicely designed pen, it writes relatively well (though I like my Aurora Ipsilons), and yes it is a very good match to Moleskine notebooks!

  5. Be sure to read the rest of Dwayne’s article on the AG-7 Space Pen by clicking the link to his work. I’m a retired Air Force flyer and I’ve used a Fisher Space Pen since 1985. I wouldn’t have any other pen in my pocket. If you live or work in a situation where pressurization problems, temperature, or writing position (as in upside down) matter, as I did for quite a few years, then no other pen will do. They even write well in my Moleskine!

  6. Tefflan:

    See, here’s the advantage of being a helo driver: no pressure or attitude problems writing! My grease pencil writes directly on the upper windshield, laminated charts, whatever. And a regular pencil does it for just about anything else (besides, our flight logs have to be written in pencil…)

  7. Wow, the AG-7 must be a hell of a pen, considering that the design held up for so long.

    I decided to get one… not the new, bullet or shuttle kind, but the original AG-7. It’s cool for both historical reasons, and because it was featured on Seinfeld 🙂

    Anyways, it’s getting delivered in 2-5 business days… can’t wait!

  8. Helo pilots make so many mistakes they have to be able to erase easily. In fact, just riding in a helo is a mistake.

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