Originally posted by sonhouse
I thought it was incredibly ironic when I first heard the story, for sure.
I remember at the time, there was actually a something like million dollar development of a pressurized pen for astronauts and I think that was the genesis of the story. It was pretty stupid in hindsight. Maybe the planners were thinking about those terrible graphite dust particles ...[text shortened]... ed is a Sharpie, which is just a felt pad wetted with ink so gravity doesn't even play into it.
Actually, I heard that a normal biro will work quite happily in zero gravity and the entire story was an urban legend.
Can't recall the source of the debunking though, so I'll google...
... and come up with this link [http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/s/spacepen.htm] which debunks the story but does say that such a pen was required by both sides in the race.
Some more pages that say it is an urban legend:
This Nasa page [http://history.nasa.gov/spacepen.html] corroborates the previous link.
The first page of the Google search has no links actually supporting the story.