Micah Ellis

Truth. Clarity. Meaning.



NASA: Dream of Tomorrow

I have thoroughly enjoyed not only hearing the purpose and philosophy behind Paula's process, but the case studies were especially enjoyable and informative. I watched most of them more then once. This project looks to be both fascinating and challenging.

I have already enjoyed learning more about the history of NASA, and its ever alluring call for the human race to think bigger, try harder and explore further.

I more then welcome any thoughts, comments or opinions on my work. I'm interested in seeing how this platform can help me as I grow as a problem solver and a design thinker.

Milestone 1

Share your research on the organization that you’ll use to define the brand’s identity.

What is the history of the organization?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958 by President Eisenhower. Before NASA the organization that was set out to accomplish similar objectives, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), was more military in its orientation. NASA was to be distinctively civilian. NASA was conceived in an almost reactionary manner after the Soviets launched Sputnik. U.S. congress was alarmed at the implications and possible threats to our national security and NASA was born to begin non-military operations with the goal of better understanding the universe, space travel and the earth.

How has it changed?

The major change is recent years is that Space shuttle missions have been put on hold and the emphasis now is on the International Space Station (ISS). The main reason for this seem to be the aging technologies inherent in the space shuttles and the rising risks involved as a result of these technologies caused the board to make this decision. The Columbia disaster in 2003 was impetus for this decision. Why the Space Station?

The following was taken from the NASA website: 

"The space station has made it possible for people to have an ongoing presence in space. Human beings have been living in space every day since the first crew arrived. The space station's laboratories allow crew members to do research that could not be done anywhere else. This scientific research benefits people on Earth. Space research is even used in everyday life. The results are products called "spinoffs." Scientists also study what happens to the body when people live in microgravity for a long time. NASA and its partners have learned how to keep a spacecraft working well. All of these lessons will be important for future space exploration.

NASA currently is working on a plan to explore other worlds. The space station is one of the first steps. NASA will use lessons learned on the space station to prepare for human missions that reach farther into space than ever before."

What is the mission statement?

“To pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”

Do people adhere to this mission statement? 

Yes, as far as I can tell.  

1 sentence that encapsulates NASA.

NASA exist to expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunity in space and for the world.


Sketch a series of design concepts in the form of a potential logo.



Current Logo Research

NASA currently has three logo variants. The Insignia, the "worm" logotype and the official seal. All of these have ben used consistently since NASA's inception in the late 50's and I would say are nicely done and appropriately used.

The Insignia

NASA uses a blue circle which has always felt very appropriate. Earth has been referred to as the "blue planet" and it seemed appropriate for NASA to be defined in relation to earth. The discoveries that are being made beyond earth, are for earth's benefit and understanding. Also the stars that are sprinkled in this blue space subtly transform the blue globe into the universe itself. So this blue sphere represents not only earth, but beyond it as well. 

Next you have the white orbital streak that wraps itself around the type in the center that speaks strongly to the ideas of exploration and discovery.

The boldest element is the red chevron or winged shape the sits firmly in the center weaving in and out of the NASA type. This shape "is a wing representing aeronautics (the latest design in hypersonic wings at the time the logo was developed)." It is also a representation of the constellation Andromeda. I am not sure of the significance of Andromeda but it was pointed out in several articles.

The Logotype

The worm logo is actually pretty cool and has made a bit of a comeback. It seems like a good thing to have, a nice solid logotype to placed on merchandise or in places where a full color insignia might not be appropriate or feasible. I'm not sure why they need to be different.

I think I can help bring some unity to the parts but also considering the different and necessary applications.

Understanding these things has been helpful when undertaking a logo redesign of this magnitude, with the storied history that exists here. None of the decisions that were made appear to be arbitrary. All are thoughtful and I will want to retain but also consolidate these ideas.

The Focus of NASA in the 1960's

NASA as it stood in 1958 was focused on earth and the moon. JFK's famous speech, "We choose to go to the moon!at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1962 was a stirring rally to the nation to champion progress and discovery no matter the cost. He compared going to the moon to other great American discoveries and achievements. "this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”Now, the goals and focus on NASA are decidedly different. 

The Focus of NASA Now?

The focus is now on Mars and establishing an outpost there by 2035. It may be appropriate for the new re-design to allude to this. 

A few more sketches

I explored a few other ideas. I am really liking the themes of collaboration, with emphesis on the ISS, and still hit the themes of the human spirit, hope and discovery.


Here is my initial illustrator board.


Milestones 3 & 4

Here is the refined and applied NASA logo and it's varients. This has been challanging and extremely educational.











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