NASA: History Repeats

Milestone 1:

Who/what is NASA?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to oversee the U.S. space and aeronautics research and compete with Russia in the space race. NASA’s goal is to learn more about Earth, space, asteroids, solar systems, and other planets by conducting scientific research using astronauts, satellites, and probes.

Mission Statement:

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

Their administration and employees adhere to the current mission statement. 

Milestone 2:

Previous and current logos:

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History has a tendency to repeat itself in one form or another; NASA is no exception when it comes to their current logo. NASA’s current logo was the original 1958 logo created by James Modarelli that was eventually coined “the Meatball”. The “Meatball” is like apple pie and fireworks on the 4th of July, it creates a sense of nostalgia for the past and present NASA employees and NASA fanboys.

In 1974, NASA commissioned Danne & Blackburn to design a more modern logo. Their logo was coined “the Worm.” James Fletcher (NASA’s then Administrator) never gave the logo a fighting chance, he felt it was missing something (of course it was the crossbar of the “A’s”) and Fletcher felt “like we’re (NASA) not getting our money’s worth.” Eventually the “Worm” was approved for use in 1975. NASA sprung the logo on their employees and the public, forcing a “take it or leave it” type of mentality. Due to the misrepresentation and poor implementation, the “Worm” only lasted till 1992 when the then newly appointed Administrator, Dan Goldin, decided to reuse the “Meatball” to boost morale. The “Meatball” was pulled out of the back of the freezer and reheated, to now once again be the insignia of NASA.

Problem areas:

The “Meatball”: The problem with the “Meatball” is that it’s too busy. It displays too much information, it doesn’t scale well and doesn’t read well in black and white, all key points for a logo that is supposed to be able to fit on a business card.

Throughout the years, the logo has even lost its meaning. Upon my research, I have noticed that people are unclear of what the red chevron represents. I have found some saying the chevron is nothing more than a giant “A” representing aeronautics and others interpreting it could be a rocket flying in space. But these interpretations are mistaken. In 1958, there was development of a new advanced type of wing called the Hypersonic Wing. Naturally this was a major advancement in aeronautics and was represented in Modarelli’s logo as a red chevron-shaped like the Hypersonic Wing.

 The “Worm”: With my love of simple, clean, and modern design, I naturally enjoy the work Danne & Blackburn did for NASA. The problem areas are not with the logo but with what the logo represents; in this case it’s what the logo doesn’t represent. Stated earlier, NASA poorly implemented the “Worm” and it didn’t keep the nostalgia people were holding onto like a 3-year-old and their security blanket. I find it ironic that an administration that promotes change and exploration ultimately didn’t like change or exploration.

Milestone 3:

Sketches and thought process:

Taking into consideration the problems that NASA has with the Worm logo, I tried to find a balance. I sketched a few concepts that focused on taking elements from the “Meatball” logo and the typographic elements from the “Worm” logo. Also, I wanted to create an element that could be customized by color to signify a specific department in NASA or a specific mission. Out of my initial sketches, these are the two variations that I furthered explored.

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Milestone 4/5:

Final Logo and Mock-ups:

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