• 'The worm' was NASA's previous logo but, it was retired in 1992
  • The Falcon 9 now has the retro logo plastered onto its side for upcoming crewed missions
  • The logo is coming back to capture the excitement of the new era in human spaceflight

NASA is reviving its retro logo for the upcoming crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The return of the logo marks the return of human spaceflight to American soil after nearly a decade.

'The Worm'

The NASA insignia that we know today with the blue sphere, a red chevron, and white stars is recognizable all over the world. Called "the meatball," it was designed by NASA employee James Modarelli in 1959, during NASA’s second year, and it remained as the agency’s logo for the next 16 years. However, the technology during the 1970s made it difficult to print and, in 1975, NASA also decided to go for a more "modern" logo.

This is where "the worm" came in. It was a simple but unique logo that only consists of the agency's name in bold red. NASA used the worm for many years but, retired it in 1992 when the agency went back to using the meatball logo.

Since then, the worm was only used for clothing and souvenirs like sweatshirts and caps. For a long time, it simply became a "retro" remnant of spaceflight. 

Next Chapter Of Space Exploration

Now, the worm is returning to the spotlight just as human spaceflight is coming back to American rockets and American soil after nearly a decade. In a new image, the worm can be seen plastered onto the side of the Falcon 9, which will launch the Crew Dragon for the second demonstration flight and the first official crewed flight to the ISS.

The Worm 'The Worm' NASA logo was retired in 1992 and was replaced by the original 'meatball' logo. Photo: SpaceX/NASA

"It seems the worm logo wasn't really retired. It was just resting up for the next chapter of space exploration," NASA said, also noting that there is a "good chance" that the logo will be used in other ways in this mission and others.

To be clear, the meatball will remain to be NASA's main logo. The worm is simply making a comeback to help express the excitement for the new missions, just like it did when it was first introduced in the 1970s.

"The retro, modern design of the agency's logo will help capture the excitement of a new, modern era of human spaceflight on the side of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle that will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the Demo-2 flight, now scheduled for mid- to late May," NASA said.

Although NASA is continuing to monitor guidelines regarding the coronavirus pandemic, so far, the mission is going according to plan. If Demo-2 with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken proves successful, the first official mission set for later this year will bring astronauts to the ISS from American soil using American rockets for the first time since the last shuttle mission in 2011.