Is it true that NASA spent thousands of dollars developing a space pen, whereas the Russians just took a pencil?
As with most urban myths, there is a tiny grain of truth in this claim, but NASA weren’t as spendthrift as some might like to think. NASA did start to develop a space pen, but the costs soon spiralled and when the agency came up against public opposition the astronauts reverted back to using pencils.
However, at around the same time, Mr Fisher of Fisher Pens had also started developing a pen that would work in weightless conditions using his own money. Fisher’s pen had a pressurised ink cartridge which worked in weightless environments, in extreme temperatures and even underwater.
Presented with a fully developed pen, NASA managers agreed to equip the Apollo astronauts with Fisher’s space pen. And the Soviet Union soon followed, supplying their cosmonauts with the pen at the end of the 1960s.
Find related websites for the Fisher space pen with physics.org