Did you know that the astronauts in NASA’s 1965 Gemini 3 earth-orbiting space mission carried pencils costing $129 each – about $960 at today’s prices!
The total cost of pencils for the spaceship was more than $4,000 which raised a few eyebrows at the time.
When challenged publicly about the cost, NASA’s spokesman said that they had used normal pencils from a local store, costing just $1.75 each.
However, to make them practical for space, it had been necessary to fabricate a take-up reel, baseplate and pencil housing for each writing instrument.
After all, you can’t have a spaceship full of floating pencils can you? They might poke somebody’s eye out which would be inconvenient during a space mission!
And floating pencils might interfere with sensitive machinery on board the spaceship – another reason to invest in customised implements for a zero gravity environment.
Later on, the fashion of using pencils in space declined when a man named Paul Fisher invented a special pen for astronauts.
The pens were usable in extreme temperatures, and worked under water as well as in the vacuum of space.
A lot of ordinary people who didn’t intend to become astronauts bought the anti-gravity pens so that they could write in a notebook while lying in bed, or on the beach.