The Pen That Went to the Moon Turns 50

by Michael Satterfield

A nice pen is one of the few accessories a man carries that speaks volumes about who they are and what they value. In the digital age, owning a good pen is a choice, like wearing an analog watch or reading on paper, it might not be required but it's one of those simple pleasures. For me, I was always taught to carry a pen with me at all times by my father, my first nice pen was a gift from my best friend when I went off to college, it was a chrome Cross pen, that I still have to this day. Carrying a nice pen is just one of those things that always stuck with me.

One of my favorite pens in my collection is my chrome Fisher Space Pen Bullet #400. Its timeless style and simple elegance make it a great choice for anyone looking to up their everyday carry game, and the #400 in raw brass is also a great choice if you want something with a little more organic look. The classic Bullet is so iconic you will even find one on display New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and with it priced at under $40 they are an incredible value. Unlike some products which have names inspired by events or places, the Fisher Space Pen earned its name as the go-to choice for the men and women who explore space even today.

In the early days of space exploration, NASA astronauts used mechanical pencils, while Russian cosmonauts were using grease pencils for their orbital note-taking. Both had their drawbacks, the pencils release wood shavings, graphite dust, and broken graphite tips which could have unwanted effects on the sensitive instruments in the space capsule. Both space agencies were looking for cost-effective solutions for space capable writing instruments.

In came Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen Co. who had already revolutionized the ballpoint pen by inventing the refillable cartridge in the 1940s, with a new pen that was designed to work in nearly any environment. The innovation was Fisher's pressurized ink cartridge which could function in a weightless environment, underwater, and in temperature extremes ranging from -30 to +250F.

NASA was impressed with the design and after two years of testing, NASA equipped the Apollo astronauts with the original Fisher Space Pen model AG7. The agency ordered prominently 400 pens at a cost of $6 each (around $46.37 in today's dollars). The Soviet Union would also order Fisher pens and ink cartridges in 1969 for their Soyuz space program. The Fisher Space Pen even helped Apollo 11 astronauts  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin get back to earth after the main engine switch was accidentally broken off on the lunar module. Aldrin used the hollow end of the pen to flip the small metal nub below the control panel, allowing the lunar module to lift off from the surface of the moon.

The company's latest pen commemorates the Apollo 11 mission on its 50th anniversary, with a special box set that includes a very special version of the original Fisher Space Pen model AG7. Embed in the end of each pen is an authenticated square of Kapton Polyimide Tape from the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, the only piece of the spacecraft to return to earth. The Black Titanium Nitride Plated Brass features engravings plated in 24 karat gold. Limited to 500 numbered pieces, each includes a commemorative box, coin, and historical outline of the mission.

Priced at $700, pens can be ordered while supplies last at