In addition to the insignia, NASA has another official symbol. If the meatball is the everyday face of NASA, the NASA seal is the dressed-up version. The NASA administrator uses the seal for formal purposes such as award presentations and ceremonies. Like the meatball insignia, the seal also includes planet, stars, orbit and vector elements.
Indeed, the blue sphere is the symbol of a planet, the stars are the space and the red foil is the symbol for aeronautics together with the orbiting spacecraft. All of it makes sense but the logo got its “meatball” name later in 1975 when NASA considered that after sending the first man on the moon it’s time to do something even more futuristic.
Modarelli was the one that made the NASA logo a bit simpler. He added white lettering and put all the stars and the orbital path in a round field made with blue and red that interconnected with the rest of the design.
I agree with your branding assessment up until you mentioned colors. When dealing with logos, colors are only secondary in terms of inmportance. As Jasper stated, your logo should be identifiable in all instances. If we have to rely on color to make out the NASA logo, then it is not worthy of being a logo. Leave it as a badge for badge scenarios.
With Kennedy's announcement, getting to the moon became NASA's priority. The Mercury and Gemini programs tested U.S. technology and human endurance in space. The Apollo program was designed to take the final steps toward the moon. There were challenges and setbacks, such as a fire that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts, but by 1968, the agency sent astronauts around the moon, with Apollo 8. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon, famously declaring, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
It should say “This is who we are!”, not “Hello, Aliens, this is our interpretation of what we think you might write like”.
The agency also creates symbols for major events, like the NASA 60th anniversary in 2018. Created by NASA graphic artist Matthew Skeins, the logo depicts how NASA is building on its historic past to soar toward a challenging and inspiring future.
This is my favorite comment. The meatball logo has a sperm cell revolving around the NASA logotype in space, which symbolizes our longing to fertilize a new egg in space. I don’t get the red tweezers however. The NASA worm logotype is more functional from a design and application standpoint, but is a little more dry.
Tradition becomes outdated when the logo becomes dysfunctional. Everything is jumbled up with too many elements in a limited and confined space. It’s illegible when scaled down, or quite frankly even scaled up. So speaking from a functional design point, it’s not easy to read from distance, which is important for the recognition of any logo. A true iconic symbol is memorable and legible, as well as functional for a wide variety of applications, which can only be done when you reduce the symbol to its purest form, making it adaptable to any application.
Mr Modarelli simplified the seal, leaving only the white stars and orbital path on a round field of blue with a red airfoil. Then he added white N-A-S-A lettering.
Since NASA in Hebrew means “lies”, or “to beguile or to deceive”, doesn’t the chevron look like… the tongue of a serpent?