During the heat of the space race in the 1960s, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) realised that astronauts would have to be able to record certain things while performing their duties and so it needed a writing utensil capable of writing in the zero gravity confines of its space capsules. Of course, a normal pen will not work since they are all gravity fed, but the design specification called for a pen to be used. After considerable research and development spanning over two years, the working zero-g Astronaut Pen was developed at a cost of approximately $1 million U.S. (in 1960's dollars !!). The initial production run was fifty pens. The Soviet Union, faced with the same problem, issued pencils.