When I was a kid, while visiting the Kennedy Space Center my parents bought me a Fisher Space Pen. At the time, I thought it was cool because it could write upside down, and because it had been designed for astronauts. I don't know where that first pen is now.
Over the past year, I've been eyeing the "bullet" Space Pens whenever I go into Office Depot. Spending twenty bucks on a ballpoint pen seemed like an unnecessary extravagance, so I held out for a long time. However, seeing the pen mentioned on 43 Folders pushed me over the edge, and I finally bought one, in chrome.
It's almost perfect. I love the size and shape: it easily goes into and out of a pocket. When you remove the cap and put it on the other end, the result is a full-size nicely weighted and balanced pen. It feels good in the hand. Holding it and looking at it just makes me smile, as it is such a nice example of elegant engineering.
The only thing I don't like about it is the ballpoint cartridge. I don't find myself in zero G or underwater very often, so I don't really need the whole pressurized-magic-ink thing. I find I have to press down a little harder than I'd like to get the ink to flow while writing. It's better than the typical 25¢ disposable ballpoint, but when I'm scribbling on an index card, I'd like smoother ink flow.
It's too bad they can't offer a terrestrial version of the Space Pen, with the same form factor but with gel ink. (Maybe I'll experiment with putting a Pilot G2 cartridge into my Space Pen.)
But that's really a minor quibble. The Bullet Space Pen is easily worth the twenty bucks, and I'll probably buy another as a backup. We astronauts value redundancy, you know.
By the way, whenever the topic of the Space Pen comes up, some know-it-all will note that the American space program spent millions of dollars developing a high-tech pen that writes in zero-G vacuum while the Russians decided to simply use pencils. The story is not true: see Snopes.com for the truth.
Update: A commenter provided a link to http://www.scarysharp.com/?p=441, which provides a solution for those who would like gel ink in their bullet pens.
I notice that I'm getting a lot of traffic from The Pen Addict. It's nice to know that others share my trivial obsessions.