A giant version of the classic red, white and blue NASA logo now proudly adorns a building that has played a central role in the history of space exploration.
NASA’s new 30-foot logo is installed on the side of the spacecraft assembly facility in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to welcome JPLers and visitors. The red, white and blue insignia – designed in 1959 and nicknamed the “meatball” – climbed on October 17 and can be seen from the nearby highway.
“We have two strands of DNA – one NASA and one Caltech. We were proud to show our legacy from NASA with this logo,” said JPL Director Michael Watkins. “With the advent of the new sign, I think more than a few people will be surprised to learn that there is a NASA center hidden right here at the foot of Mount San Gabriel.”
A giant version of NASA’s classic red, white and blue logo now proudly adorns a building that has played a central role in the history of space exploration. Credit: NASA-JPL / Caltech
Weighing 6.5 tons, the logo is a vinyl coating stretched on an aluminum frame and then attached to a steel structural ring. It was assembled in a JPL parking lot before being lifted by a 50-ton crane and anchored on the High Bay side of the spacecraft assembly facility, the robot factory where NASA’s twin Voyager, Galileo and all of Mars rovers have been built at the agency. Structural steel beams were welded in place to support the new sign.
The work of creating, sizing and placing the sign fell to The Studio, part of JPL’s graphic design and visual strategy team. The historic site they chose for the sign was only appropriate, although the decision was based on pragmatism.
“We were trying to find a building that worked both on site and with the right size, height and shape,” said Dan Stokey, manager of The Studio. “While at first we were just looking for a suitable surface, the fact that this is our High Bay was a happy incident that makes it more important.”
The JPL’s location at the base of the foothills dates back to 1936, when a group of rocket enthusiasts, led by Caltech student Frank Malina, conducted tests to fire rockets at the site. JPL, a division of Caltech, grew in the 1940s and 1950s and eventually built and helped launch America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. Later that year, Congress created NASA, and JPL became part of from the agency. Caltech manages the JPL for NASA.
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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.