One of my favourite advertising books is John Steele’s ‘Truth, lies and advertising‘. John writes about American astronauts discovering that they could not take notes with their ball pens in space. Result: the Space Pen, made after millions were spent in research. The Russians too faced the same problem and they too came up with a solution: use a pencil. I didn’t know that it was only an urban legend.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon the Space Pen has released a print/poster campaign in Australia. They also have a website Civilizing Space where aliens are presented in well-turned out suits and of course the Space Pen.
According to the site:
Up until Mr. Fisher’s invention all space flights were using pencils that functioned well, but often broke leaving dangerous floating flotsam in the capsules that could end up anywhere.
So there goes the ‘urban myth’ about NASA spending millions and millions of dollars in R & D to create a pen that worked in space whilst the Russians used a pencil instead.
Hmm, when I read about the Space Pen & pencil in the context of using research wisely, it made so much sense. Turns out it was a specious argument. Never mind John, it’s still a good book.