NASA is restoring a squiggly graphic representation of its acronym, known as "the Worm," to a place of prominence, 28 years after it was consigned to the dustbin of space history.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine declared that "the worm is back" today in a tweet — and revealed that it's been painted on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that's due to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as soon as next month. That demonstration mission will mark the first time U.S. astronauts have been launched to orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011.
The worm was born in 1975 as an alternative to NASA's original "meatball" logo, which put the acronym inside a blue sphere with a spacecraft zooming around it. Not everyone was a fan: In 1992, the worm fell out of favor and was expunged from use, except on T-shirts and souvenir items. Now the worm has turned.NASA said officials are still assessing exactly how and where the worm will be used, and that the meatball will keep its status as the space agency's primary symbol. Today's turnabout surprised space fans: Some even suspected it was a late April Fool's prank. For the full rundown on the worm, check out Keith Cowing's post at NASA Watch.
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Back then, it was called the Hyper-A testbed vehicle, and it represented one of the engineering frontiers for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's space venture.
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