When Space X's Crew Dragon craft carries its first complement of astronauts to the International Space Station later this year, it will do so with NASA's iconic "worm" logo emblazoned on the side of its Falcon 9 rocket. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine shared the news over Twitter, saying the symbol will mark the "return of human spaceflight on American rockets from American soil."
The worm is back! When the @SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off carrying @NASA_Astronauts aboard #CrewDragon, it will sport the iconic symbol to mark the return of human spaceflight on American rockets from American soil. More: https://t.co/jQQv5ZcTY0 #TheWormIsBack pic.twitter.com/9Ltk1nMa8j— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) April 2, 2020
With the help of design firm Danne & Blackburn, NASA introduced the worm in 1975 as a way to update its existing design language. At the time, the agency's original 1950s "meatball" logo was difficult to reproduce and print. It also had political connotations that some people felt weren't appropriate for the new, more collaborative spaceflight era of the mid-1970s. The logo adorned some of NASA's most well-known craft from the period, including the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Even President Reagan was a fan, praising the design for its simplicity in 1984.
Despite its popularity, NASA retired the worm in 1992, returning to the meatball. Minus the occasional merchandising opportunity, NASA hasn't used the graphic in an official capacity since then -- that is until today's announcement.
Moving forward, NASA is considering using the logo in other contexts as well. "There's a good chance you'll see the logo featured in other official ways on this mission and in the future," the agency said. But it has yet to decide on exact use cases. In the meantime, Crew Dragon’s Demo-2 test is scheduled for late-May at the moment.