Retired NASA engineer Joe Chambers was asked by his wife to look through his ever-growing collection of historical material to cull what had already been published and to clear out their house a little. When sifting through folders, Joe saw one labeled “NASA Insignias.” It formed the basis of a 2013 presentation at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

It’s three minutes in when Joe takes the podium.

Wings, Meatballs, Worms, and Swooshes: The Untold Story of the Origins of the NASA Seal and Insignia, on YouTube.

Found on the NASA website. Via Brian’s comment on the NASA logo evolution (in the archives).

Skip to 27:36 for the story on how the official seal was chosen in 1958, and its road to Presidential approval.

“Over 350 designs were submitted. They spent half a day arguing about the merits of all 350, and finally Glennan got up, pounded the damn table and said, ‘I’m gonna make the decision, we’re going with this one.’”

nasa-seal Wings, Meatballs, Worms, and Swooshes design tips

And skip to 34:28 to listen to how the “Worm” was introduced in 1975.

nasa-worm Wings, Meatballs, Worms, and Swooshes design tips

“Something looks strange about this. We’re not sure we’re happy with it.”

Interesting to see the letterhead NASA was using back in 1959. A bit too much space in the company name, mind you.

nasa-letterhead-1959-01 Wings, Meatballs, Worms, and Swooshes design tips Image courtesy of Cooper Hewitt.