At the beginning of the 1900s, the fascination of science fiction began to take root in the hearts and minds of the Western world. The works of visionaries like H.G. Wells’ War of The Worlds and Jules Verne’s From the Earth To The Moon, fueled the idea of space travel, making it a constant fixture in the human imagination. Despite its enchantment, the idea of spaceflight did not become an engineering possibility until 1919 with Robert H. Goddard’s publication of A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, a paper that outlined the capabilities of interplanetary travel and became extremely influential for future spaceflight innovators. Indeed, it would not be until the “space race” between the former Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States in 1957 that the very idea of humans in space seemed to be a distinct possibility.
Even though Americans can proudly boast the amazing feat of placing the first man on the moon, the Soviet Union (and subsequently Russia) has the honor of putting the first man into space. On 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin made one orbit around the Earth in the Vostok 1 spacecraft, effectively establishing his place in history. Two years later, after being selected out of more than four hundred applicants and then out of five finalists, the Soviets chose Valentina Tereshkova to become the first woman in space as the pilot the Vostok 6 .
Though Tereshkova was the first in a long line of female astronauts, she most certainly is not the last. From Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, to Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to walk on the moon; Mae Jemison, the first African-American in space; Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space and Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and commander, women have been a major part of space programs around the world. 56 of the 525 total space travelers in history have been women, and the latest to join these prestigious ranks is Liu Yang from China. She is a major in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, a veteran pilot with over 1,600 hours of flying experience and on June 16, 2012 she became the first Chinese woman in space. During her two years of astronaut training, Miss Liu excelled at all her tests before being chosen over another woman candidate for the honor of flying. As if this was not enough to immortalize her in the history of not only her nation, but the world, the same space flight she participated in was the first manned mission to the Chinese space station Tangong 1.
The pen world proudly salutes these space pioneers with several commemorative pen sets. For China’s historic mission, the perfect piece to bring a little bit of mother earth with them on the long journey to the great unknown could have been the Fisher Space Pen Astronaut ballpoint pen. It is an exact replica of the original Fisher Space Pen that was used on the Apollo 7 space mission and all subsequent flights since then. Its companion piece is the Jac Zagoory One Giant Step Astronaut Pen Holder. The instrument is made of pure zinc and molded into the shape of an astronaut, a stunning testament to those first brave souls who walked upon the moon. Though the latter is a device better left for home, both, along with Miss Liu, embody various types of firsts. Though they are the first of their kinds, it is written in the stars that they will most certainly not be the lasts.