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NASA’s iconic worm logo is back and is likely to stay

NASA insignia is one of the most iconic and powerful symbols in the world. NASA has three main official designs, the ‘Worm’, the ‘Meatball’ and the ‘NASA seal’.

NASA Seal insignia

NASA official seal

NASA seal was first approved by President Eisenhower in 1959 and was slightly modified by President Kennedy in 1961. The seal includes planet, stars, orbit and vector elements. The sphere represents a planet; the stars represent space, the red chevron is a wing representing aeronautics and then the orbiting spacecraft going around the wing. It is officially known as insignia. The NASA administrator uses the seal for formal purposes such as award presentations and ceremonies.

NASA ‘meatball’

NASA meatball is the most common logo called insignia
NASA meatball

The round red, white and blue insignia, nicknamed the “meatball,” was designed by James Modarelli, the head of the reports division at Lewis Research centre back in 1959, when the national Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) morphed into an agency that would advance both astronautics and aeronautics- the National Aeronautics and space administration (NASA). James Modarelli just simplified the NASA seal, leaving only the white star and orbital path on a round field of blue with a red vector. Then he added white N-A-S-A lettering. The round shape of the insignia represents a planet. The stars represent space. The red v-shaped wing represents aeronautics. The circular orbit around the agency’s name represents space travel.

NASA ‘Worm’

SpaceX falcon 9 carying astronauts from earth to ISS in a crew dragon mission
NASA worm is back in 2020.

The meatball become the most common symbol of NASA for 16 years until NASA decided to create a more “modern” logo in 1975. NASA hired Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn to design the logo. NASA switched to the modern logo known as the ‘Worm’, a red, stylized rendering of the word, NASA removing the A’s horizontal bar. The logo was used for official purpose for 17 years and was honored in 1984 by President Reagan for its simplistic, yet innovative design.  In 1992, NASA decided to go back with the ‘meatball’. The ‘Worm’ was used only for special occasion and commercial merchandising purpose.

NASA ‘worm’ is BACK

But it has been re-instated by NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine in April 2020. The logo was revealed when SpaceX rocket, Falcon 9 was unveiled in 2 April 2020. Falcon 9 will lift off from Kennedy Space Center, LC-39A carrying NASA astronauts as part of the Crew dragon demo 2 mission to International Space Station (ISS) in mid- to-late May. It will be SpaceX demo-2 first crew test flight of the crew dragon spacecraft. According to NASA, the meatball will remain the main symbol, but the Worm will also be used. The agency is still assessing how and where it will be used, exactly.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator tweeted,

“I grew up inspired by @NASA missions during the era of the NASA worm. In fact, I was born in 1975, the year the NASA worm logo was first introduced. In the 80s, I had a NASA X-29 (my favorite plane) poster hanging in my room. It sported the NASA worm on its tail.”

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