NASA Spent $12 Billion for Space Pen, While Russians Used Pencil: Facts

Picture about NASA Spent $12 Billion for Space Pen, While Russians Used Pencil
NASA Spent $12 Billion for Space Pen, While Russians Used Pencil


NASA Spent $12 Billion for developing a Zero-Gravity Space Pen, while the Russians who faced the same problem, simply used a pencil.

Other Versions

1. NASA has spent $12 billion to develop a ballpoint ‘space pen’ for astronauts to use in zero gravity.

2. NASA’s Zero Gravity Pen.

When NASA sent astronauts into Space, they discovered,  ballpoint pens do not work in zero gravity. In order to combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 Billion to develop a pen. This special Space Pen can  write in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, and almost on any surface including glass. It even works at temperatures below freezing point.

The Russians used a pencil.

3. NASA Spent $12 Million For a Space Pen While the Russians Just Use Pencils.

Fact Check:

There was a common belief that NASA had spent huge amount of money to develop a space pen that can write under zero gravity. While the Russians who faced the same problem, used pencils. But the fact is, NASA did not spend 12 billion dollars on their space pen, and the Russians did not just use pencils for writing in space.

Space Pen & Zero Gravity

Ball point pens do not work under zero gravity conditions like, in space. So the Russian astronauts used pencils and also grease pencils on plastic slates until they adopted space pens in 1969. NASA programs too used pencils in the beginning, but looked for other alternatives due to the substantial dangers of using pencils. Like

1.Pencil dust and their broken tips can damage the electronics.

2. Also, the wood used in the pencil is flammable.

The astronauts used mechanical pencils for Project Gemini in 1965. Later Paul C. Fisher, of the Fisher Pen Co. developed a ballpoint pen that can write in space environment. It uses a pressurized ink cartridge. Like the messages suggest, NASA did not approach Paul Fisher or fund him to develop the space pen. NASA started using these AG7 Space Pens from 1967 to equip their Apollo astronauts, and Russia adopted the same in the year 1969. This AG7 Astronaut Space Pen costs a mere $50, and can be directly bought from the company.

Picture of Fisher Space Pen
Fisher Space Pen

The Controversy

The controversy actually began when NASA ordered mechanical pencils in 1965 from a manufacturing company in Houston called Tycam Engineering. It made a contract to purchasing 34 units at a total cost of $4,382.50, i.e $128.89 per unit. But, NASA backtracked from the purchase immediately and equipped their astronauts with less costly items. Later, it adopted the space pen.

Hence, the common claim that NASA Spent $12 million for Space Pen, while the Russians just used pencils is a hoax.

Hoax or Fact:

It is a Hoax.


Spacepen use in the U.S. and Russian space programs
The Fisher Space Pen – NASA

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