The Magical Space Pens That NASA Uses? You Can Own One.

Their development cost millions, but you'll pay under $100

By Eli London

 
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16 October 2018

The Fisher Space Pen is an object steeped in some serious lore.

Many a casual pen historian will tell you how NASA spent millions of taxpayer dollars during the space race of the ‘60s developing a utensil that could write in space while the Soviets just gave their astronauts pencils and called it a day.

This sentiment is, of course, untrue. You see, the Fisher Space Pen was not a product of the U.S. Government or any of its subsidiaries; it was invented by Paul Fisher, a man who was aided by his work in ball bearings factories during WWII, as a retractable pressurized pen that could work in zero gravity. It’s a consensus among those who know that Fisher did, indeed, spend millions developing his first prototype, which came to be known as the Anti-Gravity 7 (#AG7) and was patented in 1966.

According to Smithsonian Magazine: “The secret to the space pen is in the cartridge. It is a hermetically sealed tube containing thixotropic ink, pressurized nitrogen gas, and a tungsten carbide ballpoint tip.” Fisher no doubt used similarly technical verbiage to persuade NASA to test out his pens as alternatives to pencils in the late '60s. Pencils are actually incredibly dangerous in space: wood and lead break and chip easily, sending floating particles into the air that can embed themselves board machinery. Not to mention they’re both very flammable.

Fisher's pitch was clearly convincing: NASA placed a bulk wholesale order of his Space Pen and sent them aboard the Apollo missions, thus catapulting the brand into the public consciousness. It’s even featured prominently in the plot of a Seinfeld episode.

But beyond their mythical status, Fisher Space pens are great for everyday needs. They can write at any angle, in any temperature that is humanly bearable (-30º F to 250º F), and even underwater. Not to mention they’re a great conversation piece because of, well, all the above.

Fisher Space Pens make a handful of different models, all with the same great technology but unique aesthetics. Check out some of our favorites below — they make for great gifts or self purchases for frequent writers, doodlers or anyone who likes to keep handsome things on their desks.

Fisher Astronaut Pen

The Astronaut Space Pen
The original pen that went up in to space. Excellently weighted solid brass with a chrome plating finish. If you want to get extra fancy, they have a black titanium nitride version as well.

BUY IT HERE

Fisher Thunderbird Pen

United States Thunderbird Space Pen
Very similar to the original, this pen was commissioned by The US Thunderbirds Chief to have a larger knob at the top for easy gripping so pilots could grab it from the small lower-leg pockets on their flight suits. Complete with Thunderbird engraving on the side and a graphic on the knob.

BUY IT HERE

Fisher Bullet Pen

Bullet Space Pen
Capped, this pen is about four inches long and easily stores just about anywhere. The removable cap fits nicely on the back when writing. Also available in chrome and matte black.

BUY IT HERE

Fisher Trekker Pen

Trekker Space Pen
Slightly larger than The Bullet, this pen measures 5” and features a key ring on the cap for easy transportation and accessibility. So long as you have your keys on you — which if you’re a responsible adult, should be most of the time — you’ll have a pen. Also available in stainless steel.

BUY IT HERE

Nota bene: If you buy through these links, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits on some items

Main image via Fisher / Facebook; All other photos via Huckberry

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