Ballpoint pens used on Earth to write in space don’t work.
Initially, astronauts had a pencil-like option for writing.
It is said that NASA made a special pen by spending millions, but the story is different.
The story is well known. In the 1960s, when NASA sent humans into space, it was discovered that ballpoint pens that worked on earth didn’t work because there was no gravity there. In such a situation, NASA made a special pen that could be used in space by spending millions of dollars. But on the other hand, when Russian cosmonauts faced this problem, they used pencils for which gravity was not required. This question is also asked many times to explain why NASA did not use a pencil instead of wasting so much money. Very few people know that the real story is not like that.
In fact, the story that is told is neither completely true nor completely false. When humans first traveled into space, it was soon realized that ballpoint pens used on Earth in space would not work because they were designed in such a way that they could use gravity.
Why not use?
Every time we try to throw the ballpoint pen at the wall, we run into trouble. Because in this the ink goes down due to gravity and only then you can write and when you try to write on the wall the pen goes in a horizontal position and the ink does not go down if it doesn’t. is not in a vertical position And we cannot write. The same thing happens in space.
use a pencil?
It is now said that to solve this problem, NASA spent millions of dollars to make a special pen that can work in microgravity. At the same time, Soviet cosmonauts saved millions by using ordinary pencils. But this is where the story goes wrong. The fact is that at first all astronauts, whether American or Soviet, used pencils.
At first, all scientists only used pencils. (Representative photo: Wikimedia Commons)
NASA did not make the pen
It is also true that NASA had also spent money to make pens for use in space. But NASA itself stopped this project when it learned that money was being spent on this work. But the pen used in space was made by an independent private company, Fisher Pen, still known as Fisher Space Pen. Once this pen got in front of the world, all American and Soviet astronauts started using it.
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but then why not a pencil
It is also important to understand why a special pen design was made for the space. Did the pencil not work, what was wrong with the pencil. Everything floats in space. In such a situation, care is taken to ensure that nothing harmful or flammable begins to float there. Pencil lead particles can be harmful by spreading through space. While wood is flammable. Graphite particles, which are electrically conductive from the microscopic level of a pencil, are also not suitable for spreading through a spacecraft, which was even more important when an Apollo mission failed.
Fisher space pens are still used by astronauts in space today. (Representative photo: Wikimedia Commons)
fisher space pen
First of all, the name of the Duro Pen Company felt pen comes in the pen designed for space. But later came the Fisher Space Pen which was much better. The specialty was that the ink did not leak from this pen and for this a drop of the company’s resin was put in the ink. This pen can write at different temperatures, in any position – straight or vertical, even on smooth and oily surfaces.
Read also: What can astronauts take into space?
The Fisher Space Pen was first used on Apollo 7 in 1968 and is still in use today. But apart from these, mechanical pencil is also used in space. Today, fine particles of graphite pencil can spread through space, but now the use of pencils is no longer risky thanks to advanced filtration systems. Yes, also remember that these mechanical pencils are not made of wood.
Keywords: NASA, research, Science, space, UNITED STATES
FIRST POST: June 10, 2023, 10:09 a.m. HST