• NASA is bringing back its famous red “worm” logo as the agency gears up for SpaceX’s first launch of astronauts.
  • The logo was discontinued in the 1990s and swapped out for the now better-known logo featuring a blue circle, dubbed the “meatball.”
  • SpaceX is using the worm on its Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacesuits, the Tesla cars the astronauts will ride to the launchpad, and more.
  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said both logos are “awesome” – “I like both, so we’re going with both,” he said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA has temporarily brought back its red “worm” logo as the agency and SpaceX prepare for the private space company’s first-ever rocket launch with astronauts on board.

The red logo, dubbed the “worm” by space aficionados for its smoothly rounded font, was discontinued in the 1990s and replaced by the now more well-known “meatball,” which features a blue circle and a red swoosh.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was asked about the logo’s return by Robert Pearlman of CollectSpace.com during a press call on Tuesday. Bridenstine said he likes both logos and had heard from space enthusiasts that they miss the old one.

“I grew up with the worm as the logo of NASA,” Bridenstine said. “It’s kind of personal to me.”

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Foto: The Falcon 9 rocket intended to launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to space sits inside a SpaceX hangar with a red “worm” logo emblazoned on it. Source: SpaceX via NASA

Fans of the worm have long clamored for its return. Bridenstine said he’s personally “heard from a lot of people” that he should bring it back.

“The NASA style guide is very clear – the worm no longer exists – but I write the style guide,” Bridenstine said. “So I made a determination that for this particular mission, on this particular day, we were going to bring back the worm. And we did.”

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Space enthusiasts are at odds over the logos, with people falling into camps on either side of the debate. To solve that problem, Bridenstine decided to have SpaceX use both logos.

“We’re bringing people together on this mission. We’ve got the meatball, and we’ve got the worm. And I like both. So we’re going with both,” he noted.

A historic launch to space

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Foto: An artist’s illustration shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docking to the International Space Station. Source: SpaceX via NASA

The mission, called Demo-2, will launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets.

The launch will send the two men to orbit aboard Crew Dragon spaceship, which will attempt to catch up to and dock with the International Space Station for a 110-day stay. It will not only represent the first mission with people on board for SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk 18 years ago, but also the first American crewed launch since NASA retired its space shuttle program in July 2011.

SpaceX and NASA have also put both logos on Model X cars built by Tesla (another company Musk heads) that will ferry the two astronauts to the launchpad.

The worm logo is located on the rear window…

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Foto: NASA’s red “worm” logo seen on the back of a Tesla Model X. Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls

…And the meatball on the side.

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Foto: NASA’s logo is seen on the side of a Tesla Model X. Source: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA said in a post to its website about the logo that “the agency is still assessing how and where [the worm logo] will be used, exactly,” but “there’s a good chance you’ll see the logo featured in other official ways on this mission and in the future.”

And for devotees of the meatball design, NASA wrote: “Don’t worry, the meatball will remain NASA’s primary symbol.”

Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 4:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday. If poor weather interferes with the launch, SpaceX and NASA can try again on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. ET or 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.

If there’s any problem with the rocket during launch, the Crew Dragon is programmed to automatically disconnect and fly away to safety.