NASA million dollar legend of the space pen
Everyone heard a historical joke about how the Americans, preparing for space flights, spent a million dollars on the development of a pen that would write in zero gravity, and the cunning Russians used ordinary pencils?
Well, you've already heard it. Those who heard it before said “button accordion”, and those who did not hear also said “button accordion” in order to keep up with the first ones.
And everything would have been fun if it hadn’t turned out that it was the Soviet Union that later had to purchase these pens for its space program, and that the development really cost the Americans considerable costs, which subsequently paid off.
How it all began
The Americans have another joke on the space theme:
on an excursion to NASA, one greedy Jew (from political correctness, we say that not all Jews are greedy, but this one was exactly that) climbed into the cockpit of the spacecraft and did not want to leave; and when they asked him what he was doing there, the Jew replied: “I love it - I can’t believe that all this was bought at the lowest price”
And indeed, the main task of NASA is the classic project management.
Thousands of contractors, subcontractors, subcontractors are developing everything from the fly on the astronaut's spacesuit to rocket launchers. And of course, NASA selects partners on a competitive basis, arranging tenders.
I can already hear how the connoisseurs of domestic business smiled at the word “tender”, thought about kickbacks, kickbacks from kickbacks, bribe greyhound puppies and other amazing features inherent in our business mentality. And they, in the west, go no better.
“It's prestigious, albeit not always profitable
, to work with NASA” Probably, that is exactly what Paul C. Fisher, inventor and owner of Fisher Pen Co, thought up in the distant 60s, and he invented a pen capable of writing in zero gravity.
Prior to this, both the Americans and the Russian (who were Soviet) cosmonauts wrote with pencils, felt-tip pens and glass-scanners.
The problem was that pencils, whatever they were, have the property of breaking. Small particles formed during the breakdown can cause a lot of trouble on the ship, where at that time pure oxygen was mixed into the air.
Paul Fisher spent on developing the “space pen” Whole Lot of Money of his personal money, received a patent for the invention and presented the result to NASA.
Astronaut Richard Gordon collects a certain device created with honest taxpayer money (1969)
How can Fisher's “space pen” write in zero gravity, under water, at any angle, at temperatures from −35 to 120 ° C and have a shelf life of more than 100 years ?
The secret is in special inks that have thixotropic properties: in the normal state, they are solid, but when written become liquid. The pressure in the ink cartridge creates compressed gas, and the ball is made of tungsten carbide, which is comparable in hardness to diamond.
The beginning of the
Fisher Space Pen legend (also known as the Zero Gravity Pen) was tested at NASA for nearly two years. And in 1967, NASA bought 400 units at a price of just $ 6 apiece.
But until that moment, American cosmonauts wrote with automatic pencils to Tycam Engineering Manufacturing Inc, which cost something about $ 130 apiece (and all because NASA allocated $ 4,400 for development, but only 38 pencils were used for the whole time).
It was because of the price of these “space pencils” that the legend arose that NASA spent a million on the development of a pen capable of writing in space.
The legend reflected the widespread belief that NASA spends a lot of money and loves to invent a bicycle for a budget account; but the Russians are such simple guys in felt boots and earflaps that go into outer space.
In fact, in February 1969, the Soviet Union purchased 100 Fisher pens and 1,000 more cartridges for them for their Soyuz space program. Space Pens were used in the Soyuz-Apollo joint program with the United States.
Cosmonauts did not refuse Space Pen, and still use them, probably for solving crosswords or for pressing the Reset button on the on-board computer.
The crew of the Soyuz Apollo program from left to right: Slayton, Stafford, Brand, Leonov, Kubasov
Fisher's classic AG7 “space handle” model has been exhibited for many years as a great example of design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Now the "space pen" costs from 20 to 800 dollars. It can be ordered on Ebay or on the manufacturer’s website.
In fact, there is plenty to choose from:
There is a model with a stylus at the end of the cap!
And even with a built-in level.
In preparing the article used materials:
The Space Review