13 thoughts on “Russian Space Pen”

  1. Sounds like a really simple solution but unfortunately, pencils need to be sharpened and sharpening a pencil results in debris that can and will float around and get into various nooks and crannies. Hopefully it doesn’t get into a critical nook or cranny and interfere with critical controls.

    In fact, NASA did use pencils originally and they didn’t spend any money to develop a space pen. Read more about it here.
    http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

  2. Nice, but wrong. The US decided against pencils because of the grapphite debris, which could cause short circuits.

  3. By the way, this all a rumor, they couldn’t use pencils because if a part snapped/flaked off then a piece of graphite-lead would be floating about and might damage equipment or go in someone’s eye (Health and Safety saves the day again). Secondly, pencils are flammable – a quality NASA wanted to avoid in onboard objects after the Apollo 1 fire.
    Its good being a killjoy.

  4. And they wonder why they lost the space race. In Soviet Russia, lost in space, big screen between ears. Spudnik real name Nudnik. Why does this idiotic myth keep perpetuating itself?

  5. This is completely NOT TRUE. The US decided against pencils…I can’t go on with this. I just wanted to sound as smart as Daniel and Charlie after reading the snopes link in Some Astronaut’s post.

  6. I had always heard this joke the other way around.

    You probably did. But it’s 2010, the year of Trashing Anything the U.S. Gubmint Does. It makes people feel so superior. Too bad we can’t vote out the folks at NASA, eh?

    Our government may be screwed up in many respects, but it’s the only one we have, and I’d rather live under our government than any other in the world.

  7. People are forgetting that the zero gravity pen actually went on to make several million dollars as a novelty item. And now we have invested in that technology, we could win the writing-utensil race!

  8. The pencil debris observation is accurate. However, the point the post makes is viable. The US and Russian space technology philosophies diverge significantly. When faced with the need for a specific piece of gear (say a pump), NASA will typically spend a lot of time and money designing and building a pump that provides long service at minimal weight (in the space game weight = $). They will then boost one or two pumps into orbit to service the need over the life of a project. In short, NASA’s cost is front loaded (design & development). The Russians will typically get a standard, heavy, short life cycle pump off the shelf and boost ten of them into orbit to service the need. Their cost is back loaded (it is expensive to lift stuff into space). Both approaches work. Which approach is better? I leave that to the accountants…

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