As a child of the 80s, whose introduction to NASA was Flight of the Navigator, NASA’s logo is and always was the Worm.1 So imagine my surprise when Administrator Goldin reverted to the grotesque Meatball 2 in 1992. Most people who I’ve heard speak ill of Goldin do so for his unjustly maligned “faster, better, cheaper” policy. Misguided: clearly, banning the Worm was the worst decision of his administration.
Apparently he was such a zealot that one of the eight paragraphs on his wikipedia page is dedicated to the topic.
On Friday 22 May 1992, Goldin announced unexpectedly that the “worm” logo would be replaced by the traditional NASA blue “meatball” logo. It had been replaced in 1975 by the NASA red “worm” logo. By 1997, Goldin had started a largely successful campaign within NASA to eradicate the “worm”. He would become irate whenever he would see a “worm” logo that was not replaced. By 1998 the “worm” logo had entirely disappeared from use both in uniforms and in equipment.
By the time I was a co-op at JSC, in late 2001, the only place I ever saw the Worm was on the lunch trays in the cafeteria. I had to order my beloved Worm sweatshirt from the MSFC gift shop via the nascent internet.3
I’m glad to see it’s back; hopefully, this time to stay.
Apparently the convention is to refer to both the Meatball and the Worm in lowercase and “scare quotes”. This makes no sense to me, so I’m not doing it. ↩
The Meatball’s serifs are all wrong, and the red aeronautics swoop somehow also looks serifed. Ugly × 2. There’s a place for serifs, but it’s hard to call them modern — and if there’s one thing that NASA’s branding should be, it’s modern. At least we sent something respectable to the Moon. ↩
Where apparently the valient pro-Worm resistance was alive-and-well. ↩