Apathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (9 years 6 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 730 times:
When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C.
The Russians used a pencil.
Enjoy paying your taxes
For those of you who just refuse to "get it", this is humor. No, I don't have a source for that. No, I don't know if its true. No, it doesn't matter if its true or not, it was merely posted to make people who do "get it" chuckle a little. And, yes, I do think it was because the Russians weren't smart enough to make such a pen no matter how much they spent.
Startvalve From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 719 times:
Pencil smears easily especially if its in a stack of papers that gets shuffled a lot. I have one of these space pens, its a pretty cool device. The Soviets probably designed something similar but due to their manufacturing capability being behind ours they may not have been able to actually build it
Bobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 7 Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 679 times:
It's a popular story, but entirely false.
NASA didn't spend all that money; nor did Russia spend zilch and get a half-chewed pencil.
Supposedly, most agencies now use the "space pen", which was developed privately. However, it sells widely (and it's not cheap), simply because the public like to think they're buying a pen that will write upside-down on a block of butter in a freezer 500km above the earth. Everybody wins. Space agencies (if they want it) get a pen for a tiny fraction of the cost of anything developed in-house; some pen manufacturer gets millions for a mediocre product; people with more money than sense can buy a pen that copes with a wide range of environments (until they lose it).
In my pocket, I keep an aluminium pen that weighs much, much less than the chunky steel "space pen". Perhaps it would fail if I ever accidentally went into space, but I'm willing to make that trade-off. I also have a Mont Blanc desk set, which is probably even less durable, but my desk is quite unlikely to become greasy, frozen, or weightless.