Hawthorne, California, USA
Originally designed by Richard Danne and Bruce Blackman in the 1972, NASA’s famous “worm” logotype was retired in 1992, but the logo has now roared back again to help celebrate the return of orbital human spaceflights on American shores.
The iconic, very 1970s red-text emblem was stenciled on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched the Demo-2 test flight last May, when NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley journeyed to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.
That was the first crewed orbital trip to depart from the United States since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet in 2011.
If all goes well with Demo-2, SpaceX will be clear to start flying operational crewed missions to and from the ISS for NASA.
Elon Musk’s company holds a $2.6 billion contract with the space agency to complete six such missions with Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9.
Boeing had a similar contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which the aerospace giant plans to fulfill using a capsule called CST-100 Starliner.
But it’s unclear when Starliner will be ready to fly astronauts; the Boeing capsule failed to rendezvous with the ISS as planned during the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) mission a year ago last December, and analysis of data from that mission revealed several serious software issues that need to be addressed.
In design history, NASA’s first logo was the famous “meatball” — a blue, star-speckled circle pierced by a red chevron, along with the agency’s name encircled by an orbiting spacecraft.
But it was tough to print this complex symbol using 1970s technology, NASA officials said, so the sleek and simple worm, created by Richard Danne, came onto the scene in 1975.
The worm and the meatball coexisted for 17 years, until the worm was buried in the early 1990s.
But agency officials have now decided that there’s room for both icons once again.
There’s “a good chance” that the worm will be featured in multiple ways on Demo-2 and in the future.
NASA is still assessing how and where it will be used, exactly, they wrote in the statement.
“It seems the worm logo wasn’t really retired. It was just resting up for the next chapter of space exploration. And don’t worry: the meatball will remain NASA’s primary symbol.”
Designers: Richard Danne and Bruce Blackman (1972)