The space shuttle and the pen
The story is set at a space program centre, which is preparing to launch a shuttle into orbit. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the project, a culmination of years of research and persistence from a dedicated team of scientists. Recently, much to the consternation of these scientists, a rival nation has successfully orbited a distant planet, sparking off a new wave of competition between the two countries. There is now much at stake for the host nation and no expenses have been spared in an attempt to succeed.
In order to record sensor readings and to make important scientific notes while up in space, the team of scientists have developed a revolutionary zero-gravity ball pen for the astronauts to use. The pen, the only one of its kind in the history of space exploration, capable of writing at any angle or in conditions of zero gravity, has been regarded as something of a breakthrough in the field.
Even though I am not an astronaut - or ever wish to become one for that matter – I cannot help but wonder how impressed those brave and dedicated men, who boldly go where few have been before, actually are with their revolutionary zero-gravity pen. After all, it’s not really on the list of vital pieces of equipment. In an emergency hundreds of miles up in space, a pen is not really something which would bring much comfort.
The pen has cost a fortune to produce, something along the line of 100 000 dollars. It has taken up a year of a team of scientist’s time and work, salaries which have been covered by the tax payers of that country. On hearing of the project and costs involved, there has been a public outcry. Spending so much on a space exploration program is one thing, but the authorities have been blasted for frivolously investing in the pen.
It’s not only the money though, as some people have been very critical on the authorities for the emphasis being placed on the must-have item. The scientists have smugly declared the pen a triumph in the annals of space travel, and also a victorious one-up against the other country who had completed their successful mission on a far more modest budget.
And what did their astronauts do to record their data? A pencil.