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Pressurised Space Pens

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So-called 'space pens' use ingenious refill technology to enable them to write in adverse conditions - particularly in zero gravity, but also in a range of earthbound conditions that cause problems for ordinary pens. Take a look at our range of pressurised 'space pens' below, or read on...

The story of pressurised pens starts with Paul Fisher, who invented a pen refill that was able to write in zero gravity and who then persuaded NASA to buy the Fisher Space Pen for space missions. The urban myth that NASA spent millions developing the space pen, while the Russians simply used a pencil is sadly not true.

So what was the problem that needed solving? Simply, pen refills rely on gravity for the ink to flow. Zero-gravity = no ink flow. While pencils don't need gravity to work, you don't want pencils shavings or lead fragments floating around in your spacecraft!

Pressurised refills are fully sealed and contain a small amount of inert gas under pressure at the opposite end to the writing tip. This gas constantly pushes the ink towards the tip, maintaining a positive flow of ink when required. The ink isn't forced out from the tip until the pen is actually writing. This is because the ball is very precisely machined to fit a very precise socket, and the thixotropic ink is so viscous that it doesn't flow unless some friction (from the rotating ball) causes it to liquify a little and spread around the ball. This is how all ballpoint pens work, but pressurised refills require more precision and more viscous ink.

However, unless you're an astronaut you're not in the habit of regular travel to outer space - so what's in it for the rest of us? Well, the technology that ensures that these pens can write in zero-G also enables them to:

  • Write upside-down - very handy if you're on your back, taking notes or doing the crossword. Ordinary ballpoints usually lose the will to write even when held horizontally.
  • Write in very low temperatures - obviously useful in very cold weather conditions but also useful in commercial cold-storage. Ordinary pen ink will solidify, but a pressurised refill will keep going at minus 20 degrees celsius.
  • Write in very high temperatures - perhaps less useful. The Schmidt refills claim to write in up to 200 degrees C. If you find yourself in that temperature, you probably have more pressing issues than whether your pen is working or not.
  • Write on greasy or wet paper, or even underwater - where ordinary ballpoints start skipping because the ball won't rotate properly or grease or water stops conventional ink sticking to the ball, a pressurised refill just keeps on working. Take notes in the rain on your damp notebook, or write your postcards at the bottom of the swimming pool...

Since the Fisher Space Pen was developed, several other writing equipment manufacturers have also perfected the technology.

Spacetec - a Diplomat brand - have been involved with the Fisher Space Pen company for many years and have a similar range of pens. The Spacetec Pocket Pen is virtually identical to the classic Fisher Space Bullet Pen, while the Spacetec 0 Gravity is the discontinued Fisher Zero Gravity Space Pen.

Spacetec pens use Schmidt Megaline pressurised refills. The Schmidt Megaline 4889 is a suitable refill for most Spacetec pens as well as for Fisher Space Pens. Schmidt also manufactures the Megaline P950M refill - a 'Parker-style' G2 pattern refill which fits a huge range of ballpoint pens from Parker, Faber-Castell, Pelikan, Tombow, Diplomat, Porsche Design, rotring, etc., turning any of these pens - even your old Parker Jotter - into a 'space pen'.

Tombow of Japan has a couple of interesting entrants in this category. The Tombow XPA is a rugged outdoor pen - a solid metal design, which telescopes for compactness and features a lanyard loop to keep it with you. Combined with the properties of the pressurised refill this is one of the most practical pens around. The refill for the XPA is the Tombow BR-VMP - another standard pattern refill, this time in multipen 'D1' format. This refill fits a huge range of multifunction and mini pens.

Uni of Japan have created one of the most interesting pressurised pens. The Uni PowerTank pen costs less than a Fisher refill, but features the same pressurised ink technology in a practical rubber-grip retractable pen design. A brilliant pen, available with black, blue or red ink, and it's even refillable with Uni SNP-10 refills.

The last word however goes to Tombow. A little lateral thinking on their part has come up with a novel take on the problem. Instead of a complex and expensive refill, the Tombow Airpress simply applies a little air pressure to the top of a conventional open-ended ballpoint refill when you click the push-button to open the pen. Simple, ingenious and perfectly effective.

We don't currently stock the Fisher brand, but we do stock all these great pressurised pens and refills - have a browse...

 
Uni PowerTank SN-220 Retractable Ballpoint Pen by Uni at Cult Pens
Pressurised refill lets this pen write upside-down, on wet paper, etc
Uni SJP-7 Ballpoint Pen Refill by Uni at Cult Pens
Refill for Alessi design pens
Uni SNP-10 PowerTank Pen Refill Medium by Uni at Cult Pens
Medium pressurised refill for PowerTank pen
Schmidt P950M Megaline Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Refill Medium by Schmidt at Cult Pens
Pressurised Parker-style refill - turns any compatible pen into a 'Spacepen'
Uni SNP-7 PowerTank Pen Refill Fine by Uni at Cult Pens
Fine point pressurised refill for PowerTank pen
Fisher Space Pen PR Pressurised Ballpoint Refill Medium by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Tombow Airpress by Tombow at Cult Pens
Brilliant do-anything write-anyhow pen
Schmidt 4876M Megaline Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Refill Medium by Schmidt at Cult Pens
Pressurised ballpoint refill
Fisher Space Pen PR Pressurised Ballpoint Refill Broad by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen PR Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Refill Fine by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Uni SNP-5 PowerTank Pen Refill Extra-Fine by Uni at Cult Pens
Extra-fine pressurised refill for PowerTank pen
Spacetec 0 Gravity Ballpoint Pen by Spacetec at Cult Pens
Schmidt 4889M Megaline Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Refill Medium by Schmidt at Cult Pens
Pressurised ballpoint refill for Fisher and Spacetec pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Raw Brass by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Tombow Outdoor Pen Refill BR-VMP by Tombow at Cult Pens
Pressurised refill for XPA Outdoor pen
Schmidt 620M Megaline Pressurised Compact Ballpoint Pen Refill by Schmidt at Cult Pens
Pressurised mini D1 refill for most multipens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Black by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Eclipse Pressurised Ballpoint Pen by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Eclipse Ballpoint Pen with NASA Meatball Logo by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Rainbow by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet 70th Anniversary Special Edition by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Save 9%
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Tahitian Blue with Matching Leather Case by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Original Astronaut Space Pen Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Clutch Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Anodized Aluminum by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Chrome with Black Leather Case by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Military Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Matte Black by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Blue and Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Titanium Nitride by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Raw Brass with Tan Leather Case by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Backpacker Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Black by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Lacquered Brass by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Law Enforcement Ballpoint Pen Black with Blue Stripe by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Red and Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Black and Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen 50th Anniversary Astronaut Pen by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Shuttle Pressurised Retractable Ballpoint Pen Chrome by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet TrueTimber Strata Camouflage Pressurised Ballpoint Pen by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Backpacker Ballpoint Pen Black with NASA Meatball Logo by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Apollo 13 50th Anniversary by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Tahitian Blue by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Backpacker Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Orange by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Matt Black with Artemis Logo by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Backpacker Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Purple by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Firefighter Ballpoint Pen Matte Black with Red Stripe by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pressurised Ballpoint Pen White and Gold by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Red and Gold by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pressurised Ballpoint Pen Blue and Gold by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens
1 in stock
Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic Apollo 13 Anniversary Ballpoint Pen Brass Cap by Fisher Space Pen at Cult Pens

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