NASA adorns Artemis Moon rocket with vintage worm logo after SpaceX flight debut

The NASA logotype, or "worm" logo, is seen on a booster segment of the Space Launch System rocket that will fly on Artemis I. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s famous worm logo will accompany astronauts on their way to the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program. The vintage design, introduced in 1975 but retired in 1992, was first returned for SpaceX’s Demo-2 astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this year, and now the logo will grace another historic return for the US spaceflight program. Photos of two Artemis Space Launch System (SLS) booster sections donning the worm logo were posted on NASA’s Moon mission website this week.

“After almost three decades, our famous logotype is back in action, and it is thrilling for all of us that worked on the original design to have it return in such an impressive way,” Richard Danne, one of the logo’s original designers, commented in NASA’s recent article on the worm’s return. “It is particularly exciting to be involved with the Artemis program, so full of potential beginning with this promising first mission.”

The NASA logotype, or “worm” logo, is seen on a booster segment of the Space Launch System rocket that will fly on Artemis I. (Credit: NASA)

The NASA worm logo was also recently applied to the Orion capsule alongside the logo for the European Space Agency (ESA), an agency partner for Artemis. The laser-cut decals were applied to the underside of Orion’s crew module adaptor which will connect to a service module that provides fuel and propulsion. Both logos will be visible as the capsule heads towards the Moon thanks to cameras on the spacecraft’s solar arrays.

The agency’s other blue-colored logo, called the meatball, was created in the 1950s and was seen as a patriotic symbol during the Cold War against the Soviet Union. It featured the same colors as the American flag, namely a red chevron wing on a blue sphere with white lettering. The NASA worm logo first debuted in 1975 was a sleeker alternative that accompanied the transition from the moon programs to the space shuttle era. Its simplistic design earned it a presidential award from Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Illustration of the NASA logotype, or “worm” logo, and ESA logo are seen on the Orion spacecraft in space near the Moon on the Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX brought the famous worm logo out of retirement for its historic Demo-2 mission which took NASA astronauts to the ISS in late May this year. As the first private spacecraft to successfully launch and land astronauts, the debut seemed an appropriate marker for yet another transition to a new era of spaceflight now focused on public-private partnerships, lunar return, and deep spaceflight missions to Mars. SpaceX has since landed several Moon-centered contracts from NASA, continuing its significant contributions in moving humans towards a more spacefaring future.

A timelapse video of NASA’s worm logo being applied to two Artemis booster segments can be watched below:

Dacia J. Ferris: Accidental computer geek, fascinated by most history and the multiplanetary future on its way. Quite keen on the democratization of space. | It's pronounced day-sha, but I answer to almost any variation thereof.
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