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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Factoid

Here is a story comparing how things were done at the Russian Federal Space Agency verses NASA....

NASA was spending millions of dollars to solve the ball-point pen problem. Pens don't work well in space. They leak, and the need gravity to push the ink down to the tip. It was an aggravating technical problem, and the best NASA engineers couldn't figure out how to solve it. During the cold war they puzzled, "How is it that the Russian's could make it work when NASA could not?"

After the cold war ended and communication between the Soviet Union and the USA improved, there was free scientific dialog between the two space agencies. The American scientists asked their Russian counterparts, "how do you write in space?"

The answer was simple, "with pencils."



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The above story is a good one, but it is an urban myth. Currently a "Zero Gravity Pen" is available from the Fisher Space Pen Company. It uses pressurized ink cartridges. The hi-tech pen was developed independently of NASA with 11 million R&D dollars by inventor Paul C. Fisher. Today Fisher sells different models of his hi-tech zero gravity pens to both the Russian and American space agencies. The Russian Space program ordered 100 Fisher Space pens for the Soyuz mission in 1969. You can purchase a consumer version of these pens online for $25 or less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Pen
http://www.spacepen.com/zerogravitypen.aspx
http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_zero_gravity_pen.htm
http://space.about.com/od/spaceexplorationhistory/a/spacepen.htm


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