NASA will mark the 60th anniversary of its establishment as a US government agency on October 1, 2018. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed NASA’s founding legislation, the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, on July 29, 1958, though NASA celebrates its birthday on October 1, the day the agency opened for business.
As part of its buildup toward the celebration, NASA released an official logo on Jan. 3 for use in observing the milestone anniversary. 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.
“NASA” and “60” are stacked atop the continental United States, the curvature of Earth and the light of an approaching dawn. The placement, according to NASA, captures the spirit of a metaphor about knowledge and discovery, often attributed to 17th-century physicist Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” NASA was built from the legacy and expertise of giants in government-sponsored research and development, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the Naval Research Laboratory, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The United States is shown at night beneath a sparkling web of yellow lights. According to the agency, this symbolizes NASA’s vibrancy and relevance, the inspiration derived from NASA’s work and the solid foundation of the “best and brightest” among industry and academia upon which the agency’s leadership in space is built. The light blue and white arc just below the alphanumeric elements recalls the sunrise, seen 16 times each day aboard an Earth-orbiting spacecraft, and symbolizes opportunity yet to come through exploration of the moon, Mars and destinations far beyond.
Two vectors, one blue and one red, circle the alphanumeric elements and point toward the dark outer edges of the logo as if zooming into the unknown. In doing so, they form a “6,” which is emblematic of the number of decades since NASA was established. The blue vector represents NASA’s roots in aeronautics research and the societal impact of our first views of Earth as a solitary “blue marble” in the vast blackness of space. The red vector represents NASA’s leadership of an innovative and sustainable exploration program that engages commercial and international partners; enables expansion of human presence to the moon, Mars and throughout the solar system; and brings new knowledge and opportunities back to Earth. Depicted at the tip of this vector are the key elements of NASA’s deep space transportation system, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew vehicle.
A crescent moon, a ringed planet and a field of stars amid a nebula of light blue represent NASA’s scientific underpinnings, particularly the enduring quest for answers to age-old questions about the workings and evolution of our planet, our solar system and the universe.