NASA decorates its Artemis Moon rocket with a vintage worm logo after SpaceX’s maiden flight

NASA decorates its Artemis Moon rocket with a vintage worm logo after SpaceX's maiden flight

The iconic NASA worm logo will accompany astronauts on their way to the moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program. The old design, which was introduced in 1975 but retired in 1992, was first pushed back for the experimental astronaut mission from SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) this year, and now the logo will see another historic return to the US spaceflight program. Images of two enhanced Artemis Space Launch System (SLS) sections wearing the worm logo were posted on NASA’s Lunar Mission website this week.

Richard Dunn, one of the original designers of the logo, commented, “After nearly three decades, our iconic logo is back in action, and it is exciting for all of us who worked on the original design to make it back in this wonderful way” in a recent NASA article on the return of the worm. “It’s exciting to be in Artemis’ so full of possibilities, starting with this promising first assignment.”

The NASA logo, or “worm” logo, appears on a boosted portion of the Space Launch System rocket that will fly Artemis 1 (Credit: NASA)

The NASA worm logo was also recently applied to the Orion capsule, along with the logo of the European Space Agency (ESA), Artemis’ partner agency. Laser-cut labels are placed on the underside of the Orion crew unit adapter that will connect to a service unit that delivers fuel and propulsion. Both logos will be visible as the capsule heads toward the moon thanks to the cameras on the spacecraft’s solar arrays.

Another agency logo in blue, called Meatball, was created in the 1950s and was seen as a national symbol during the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The same colors of the American flag appeared, i.e. a red chevron wing on a blue ball with white lettering. The NASA worm logo first appeared in 1975, and was a more elegant alternative to the transition from moon programs to the space shuttle era. Its simple design awarded her a Presidential Award from Ronald Reagan in 1984.

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An illustration of the NASA logo, or “worm,” and ESA logo appearing on the Orion spacecraft in space near the moon on the Artemis I. mission (credit: NASA)

SpaceX has brought the iconic worm out of retirement for its historic Demo-2 mission, which took NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in late May this year. As the first private spacecraft to successfully launch and land astronauts, the debut seemed an appropriate sign for another transition into a new era of spaceflight that is now focused on public-private partnerships, a return to the moon, and deep spaceflight missions to Mars. Since then, SpaceX has secured several lunar-focused contracts from NASA, and continues to make significant contributions in moving humans toward a more astronaut future.

A time-lapse video of the NASA worm logo applied to the two Artemis Booster clips can be viewed below:

NASA decorates its Artemis Moon rocket with a vintage worm logo after SpaceX’s maiden flight

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