‘Space Pen’ isn’t just a name Fisher gives to its signature ballpoint pen – its where the pens are actually used.
And now one lucky collector has an actual space-mission Fisher pen to show off.
To raise funds, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation just held an auction of space memorabilia. Among the items up for bidding was a Fisher that flew on NASA missions 30 years ago. It belonged to astronaut Bill Pogue, who carried it to Skylab and used it there in the early 70s.
The pen was the AG7, the original Space Pen designed by Fisher, and still looked to be in good condition. One nifty mod: a small bit of Velcro near the top so the pen could be secured in the zero-gravity environment.
The Fisher went to an unidentified buyer for US$1,900 in a week of hard bidding that started at US$50.
That’s a lot of cash, but who wouldn’t want to whip out a pen that’s been to space next time there’s something to sign? We’re officially jealous.
In case you aren’t familiar with the history of the Fisher Space Pen (or have heard the erroneous story of how NASA spent millions on a pen, while the Russians just used pencils) this is from one of our blog posts on the Fisher a few years ago:
NASA was trying to find a reliable writing instrument for astronauts in the early 60s. Ballpoint pens would not work because they relied on gravity to feed ink to the ball and then onto paper. Pencils were encased in wood, which was flammable, a dangerous potential in space. NASA tried buying mechanical pencils, but ended up paying US$129 each, which did not sit well with the public.
Paul Fisher already had succeeded in inventing a universal ballpoint pen refill that fit most of the popular brands then on the market. He went to work on a pen that would perform in the unique conditions of space. That meant it had to function by some means other than gravity and had to withstand extremes of heat and cold.
His company reportedly spent $1 million on research, and the result was the Space Pen. By adding gas pressure to the cartridge and using low-viscosity ink, Fisher created a pen that could write underwater, in zero gravity, and in temperature ranges from -45C to 204C.
NASA scientists put the pens through testing and, in 1967, agreed to buy 400 of them for the Apollo space mission.