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Pencils set to make their mark
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Astronauts will make a note of what they observe in space using pencils made in Shanghai.

The pencils will bear the brand name Chunghwa, which translates into the Chinese nation.

They are 18 mm in diameter, three times the thickness of an ordinary pencil, and made of slip-proof basswood.

The pencils will be attached to the spacesuits along with a notepad.

"The astronauts will be able to hold the pencils easily despite their bulky spacesuits, and in conditions of weightlessness," Li Jiguo, marketing manager of China First Pencil Co Ltd, said.

"The pencils can be used at both ends and capable of writing 400 characters," Li said.

"They can be used in temperatures as high as 50 C and as low as -18 C."

Li said the pencils are expensive. "We sold them to the space center for 10,000 yuan ($1,470) each."

To record the historic spacewalk, the company plans to produce another 2,008 pencils for general sale. Each of them will be sold for about 5,000 to 6,000 yuan.

(China Daily September 25, 2008)

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