NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham writes with a Fisher Space Pen during the flight of Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight and the Space Pen’s first trip to space. The pens have been used on every NASA human spaceflight mission since. [Credits: NASA]

How astronauts write aboard the space station ? Is it pencils or pens, or do they have special pens to write notes in micro-gravity of space. NASA recently revealed the detailed information bursting all the myths and speculations on how astronauts write in space, including speculations that NASA spent millions to invent a pen that can write in zero gravity, while cosmonauts simply used a pencil.

No, Astronauts DO NOT use Pencils because the pencil lead could easily break off and float away, making a harm to astronauts like going into their eyes, nose or ears and even hazardous to sensitive electronics on the spacecraft / ISS.

Is there A Pen Specially-made for Space ?

Yes and its called "Space Pen" made by Fisher Pen Company. The pens were introduced to space service on the Apollo7 mission and have been in regular NASA use since then.

The AG7 is the original Fisher Space Pen that was used on the Apollo 7 space mission in 1968 after 2 years of testing by NASA.

The AG7 model was the very first Fisher Space Pen.
Image Credits: Fisher Pen Company

Fisher's Space Pen was developed for use in gravity free environments. The cartridge, pressurized with nitrogen, seals out air preventing evaporation and oxidation of the ink. Internal pressures force ink outward toward the ball point. A thixotropic ink is used. 

According to NASA Technical Reports Server, the pen operates from -50 to +45 degrees Fahrenheit, and can withstand atmospheric extremes. It was used both on the Apollo missions and by Soviet Cosmonauts.

In 2021, the technology was recognized by the Space Foundation as an innovation developed for space that now improves life on Earth, joining around 80 other technologies in the organization’s Hall of Fame.

History of Inception of Space Pen

NASA reached out to Fisher Pen Company founder Paul Fisher looking for a pen that didn’t require gravity. Paul had already invented the 1st universal ink cartridge refill and was working on a sealed cartridge with pressurized nitrogen at the top pushing a tiny piston against the ink. But the pressure caused the pens to leak. 

Paul knew this pressurized ink cartridge could be just the thing -- if he could solve the leaks. With NASA’s interest spurring him on, he finally succeeded when he added resin to the ink to make it “thixotropic” – almost solid until friction with the ball at the point of the pen liquefied it. He called the result the AG7, for anti-gravity, and sent several to NASA.

Paul and his son, Cary Fisher, continued perfecting the technology and designing new models and now the Space Pen line comprises about 80 models. Fisher Pen Company has distributors in 52 countries but still makes all its pens in Boulder City, where more than 60 employees turn out over a million pens a year.

The Cost 

The cost of original AG7 Space Pen is $70 (~ ₹ 5,124 ), which is excluding delivery charges, directly via official Space Pen store. The Space Pen is also available on Amazon at $60 and on Amazon India at price tag of ₹9,662.


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