Why is the NASA logo so popular?

Many people look to space exploration as a way to expand our horizons and push the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding. The NASA logo serves as a reminder of our potential as a species to achieve great things, and the importance of scientific discovery and exploration in our lives.

The meatball and the worm

‘The meatball’ was in service as the NASA insignia for two periods: 1959-1975 and 1992-present. During the intervening years, ‘the worm’ became the official NASA logo until it was replaced by ‘the meatball’. In 2020 ‘the worm’ was re-instated as a secondary logo used to brand specifically human spaceflight. As such, it is used on things like crew items, capsules, spacesuits, etc.

Why are they so popular on shirts, caps and coffee cups?

The NASA insignia and logotype are not great works of design art. Then why do I see them on a million sweatshirts, hats, t-shirts and coffee cups? Three reasons:

  1. The insignia and logotype, most images produced by the United States Government, are in the public domain. So you don’t have to license them to use them.
  2. They are both easily recognizable as a brand, as much as Disney even.
  3. They invoke the feel of America as vanguard: smart, brave, and leading the way in a bold new enterprise.
american space capsule lands on mars

Get the Nasa ‘meatball’ stencil.

Get the NASA ‘worm’ stencil.