Mechanical Pencil, Shuttle

Display Status:

This object is on display in the Moving Beyond Earth exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

Pens and pencils are among the simplest technologies used in space. Mechanical pencils like this one are preferred to regular pencils because they do not need to be sharpened, thus avoiding bits of wood debris in the crew cabin. NASA modified these standard commercial products slightly for use in space, adding a piece of Velcro and a short tether cord. These additions enabled an astronaut to keep the pencil attached to a notebook or place it somewhere handy without its floating around in microgravity.

NASA transferred this pencil and a variety of other crew equipment to the Museum in 2012 when the space shuttle program ended.