In most cases, NASA uses one of its three main logos. The most popular ones are the so-called meatball and seal designs, but the “worm” logo is also used under certain circumstances. In addition to this, NASA may develop new emblems for certain projects.

Who designed the NASA logo?
Richard DanneThe official seal was developed by a NASA Lewis Research Center illustrator. The so-called “meatball” insignia was designed on its basis by James Modarelli, the head of Reports Division at Lewis Research Center. The authors of the “worm” logo (1975-1992) were Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn.

NASA Logo Meaning and history


The official NASA logo, often called the “meatball”, was developed in 1959 by the agency’s employee James Modarelli. According to some sources, Modarelly just simplified the more formal “seal” version of the emblem created by Lewis Research Center illustrator earlier.

The introduction of the meatball emblem happened two years after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created. In fact, an organization with very similar functions – National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics – existed since 1915, and NASA was its legal successor. Yet, the NASA’s leaders were sure they needed to create a new emblem from scratch.


Every element of the emblem has its meaning corresponding to a certain aspect of the NASA’s mission. For instance, the round shape is supposed to symbolize a planet, while the stars symbolize space. Aeronautics and space travel are symbolized by the red chevron and the orbiting spacecraft respectively.

The NASA “seal” symbol

NASA symbol

When NASA holds or takes part in award presentations and ceremonies, the company uses a special “dressed-up” version of its official emblem. This symbol is called “seal”. In addition to the stars, orbital path, and vector elements that can be seen at the regular NASA logo, the “seal” also includes two planets and “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration U.S.A.” inscription.

The “worm” emblem NASA

nasa worm logo

In 1975 Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn developed a new emblem for the space organization. This move was a part of the Federal Graphics Improvement Program. All the lines forming the word “NASA” had the same width, while the bars from the “A” characters disappeared, and thus the customized type resembled a worm. That’s why the emblem was nicknamed the “NASA worm”. This version of the emblem was used for 17 years, then the company decided to get back to its roots and return to its “meatball” insignia.

Additional NASA emblems

The agency fulfills a variety of projects using alternative NASA emblems specifically designed for the occasions. For instance, the crew of each space shuttle creates a new patch reflecting the details of their mission. Moreover, such patches were developed even for some robotic probes.

Font of the NASA Logo

Font of the NASA Logo

The “meatball” NASA logo features a bold serif type. Every character is capitalized.

Color of the NASA Logo

Color of the NASA Logo

The “meatball” insignia uses three colors: a bright hue of red (Pantone 185), dark blue somewhat reminiscent of the evening sky (Pantone 286), and white.

nasa emblem

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