National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the most famous space agency in the world. It’s a branch of the American government directly responsible for developing the nation’s space program, as well as furthering the cooperation in this field with the other national agencies across the world.
The agency has been formalized in 1959 when it was created in response to the Soviet efforts in space research. Before then, USA had several distinct institutions that dabbled in researching the means of sending vessels into space. They – most notably, NACA, as well as others – were merged into NASA.
NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) has been the major precursor to NASA. Most of the agency’s initial resources and research have been taken over from NACA, which meant the latter became the basis on which NASA was founded.
NACA’s logotype, in turn, looked like a shape of a sheriff’s badge with two wide wings attached to it seamlessly on each side. It was supposed to relay that this institution is the central authority in promoting aeronautics in the country.
Across the logo were put the letters ‘NACA’ in thin black font.
In 1959, the newly-created agency was given its first official logo. To clearly get the point across, the basis was a blue circle with white dots (representing stars) hanging in some places.
The acronym ‘NASA’ has been written in white letters across the circle. The characters were white, thick and notched. In addition, there were two objects hanging around the acronym
The first is a thin V-shaped form that passes behind the three first letters, and whose other half passes over the ‘S’. This object is supposed to look like a rocket, obviously. Another object is a comet circling around the acronym’s axel. Logically, it shouldn’t do it, but it has a tail and a necessary shape.
In 1975, NASA decided to scrap the previous logo and be more futuristic and concise. They basically took the acronym, painted it red and simplified the letters. The lines of the letters have become uniform, fluid and it looks as if each was drawn with a single stroke.
It’s also a small throwback to the red rocket from the previous logo.
In 1992, the agency decided to return the iconic circle logo and use it alongside the acronym version. Nothing changed, except the color scheme became noticeably paler.
The reason why the old symbol had to be returned is possibly because the people got nostalgic. In addition to that, by 1992 the Space Race was over, and research in this field has pretty much returned to the good old days of massive cooperation on all fronts, which gave NASA an idea to return an old lighthearted emblem.