Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Space pens

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

27-03-2008 22:52 CDT


When I was a graduate student at Brown I was privileged to interact with all sorts of great planetary scientists, among them several Russians with whom my advisor Jim Head had been working for decades. Alexander "Sasha" Basilevsky especially was a fixture at Brown, and was very patient with my various inquiries about what the heck was going on in Magellan radar images of Venus. Sasha would know the answers; he's an expert on the geology of the Moon, Mars, and Venus, and was instrumental in establishing a science agenda for the early, otherwise politically motivated Russian exploration of space.

One of my fond memories of Sasha is of him telling a lengthy story in his very deliberate, heavily accented (but perfectly comprehensible) English. I won't attempt to recreate the complete story -- it was a well-worn (but then new to me) joke about America spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that would allow astronauts to write in space -- but I distinctly remember his delivery of the punch line, which was: "In Rrrrussia, ve use pencil."

Well, Astroprof has just posted a lengthy discourse on the legend of the space pen, and it turns out to be quite an interesting story and not at all a joke. You'll learn something -- you can surprise your friends with a new word, "thixotropic"! -- so go read.

See other posts from March 2008


Or read more blog entries about:


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search


Advocate for Space!

Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.

Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.

Sign Our Petition

Featured Images

LightSail-B on the bench
Blue Origin New Shepard after first landing
New Shepard test flight and booster landing
Suni Williams and Doug Hurley in Crew Dragon
More Images

Featured Video

MISSIONS: Dawn In The Asteroid Belt With Marc Rayman

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Selfies to Space!

Take flight with a selfie on LightSail™ in 2016!

Send a Selfie Now

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!