Stuck On You

3 Aug, 2005 | Science And TechnologyTdp

For a long time the only competitors for space were the Americans and the Russians. One requirement for a successful space flight, which seems trivial but is very important, is a writing implement. In order to allow their astronauts to write in space, NASA spent millions of dollars designing a pen that would write in zero gravity, upside down and even underwater. The Russians took pencils.

I always remember that story, I don't know how true it is, but it does nicely illustrate the differences in approach. Why do I mention this? Because today the billions of dollars, the millions of man-hours and the hopes, dreams and hard work of thousands of people involved in NASA's space projects hinged on something cobbled together with duct tape.