Remember the scene from 3-idiots when virus tells them about space pen and amir asks why the astronauts didn’t use pencil instead? Yeah right, millions would have been saved if using a pencil in the space as possible. But it’s not, and the space pen has now turned 50. That’s a long time and we have penetrated deep into the space opening ways and places that were visited by none.

What is a space pen?

A space pen is a gas-charged ballpoint pen that works in extreme conditions like zero-gravity, vacuum, and extreme temperatures. We don’t really give the earthly forces the due importance in writing because we have never experienced their absence. But it matters. And in spaces like these is where the space pen comes to the rescue.

50 years of the space pen

The space pen has been on every manned flight that took off to space since 1968 Apollo 7missionwhen it was first used. Since then the space pen has evolved according to the needs and requirements. But it has always been an astronaut’s possession in space.

Over the time the sizes and shapes changed drastically but the underlying technology is still the same. It is still the same sealed, pressurized ink cartridge as patented on the Mr. Paul Fisher’s name in 1966.

The technology behind the pen

The works in extreme conditions so definitely it cannot depend on the components it uses in normal conditions. The pen uses thixotropic ink. Initially, the ink is in the near-solid state. When the pen needs to be used it is stirred. The stirring movement causes the ball in the ink to move through the point and thus liquefy the ink.  This then allows the ink to flow out even in zero-gravity vacuum spaces.

More about the pen

The pen can also write upside down on the surface of the water and almost on any surface. The ink will flow out and work normally in conditions that lay between -30 F to +250 F which is about -34 C to 121 C. that literally covers almost all the conditions a man can visit and might require a pen.

Definitely, there have been other substitutes but the best has rightfully maintained its place to be the best for 50 years now. The astronaut that used the pen on his and the pens first flight still relies on the same pen after 50 years too. The pen is an asset anyone would live to acquire.


We live in the world of technology where screens are replacing pages. But still behind these screens lies a beautiful feeling that only a pen can give. Be it on the land or up in the space man felt the need for the pen 50 years back and also feels now. The pen is an undebated commodity that has literally seen the society change and grow and holds a place of pride even if the times have replaced it with may or may not be better options. No matter the advancements that man makes a pen will always remain mightier than the sword in the history and the screen in the future.