As NASA celebrates 60 years, Apollo’s 50th Anniversary celebrations gathers pace, offers us opportunity to remind you about a great new graphic novel!

NASA's 60th anniversary logo, created by Matthew Skeins. The logo’s arrangement is intended to evoke a quote attributed to 17th century physicist Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." (NASA)
NASA’s 60th anniversary logo, created by Matthew Skeins. The logo’s arrangement is intended to evoke a quote attributed to 17th century physicist Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (NASA)

In the run up to the 60th anniversary of its establishment as a US government agency this year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) you may have missed that it unveiled an official logo to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program.

NADA was established on 29th July 1958, with the signing of legislation by President Dwight Eisenhower. The agency celebrates its birthday on 1st October 2018, the day it formally began operation.

From October through December 2022, NASA will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program that landed a dozen Americans on the moon between July 1969 and December 1972.

NASA unveiled its official logo for use in observing these milestone anniversaries Friday at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington at the end of May.

The unveiling was part of “NSO Pops: Space, the Next Frontier,” a National Symphony Orchestra celebration of NASA’s 60 years of accomplishment.

Apollo 50 - The Next Giant Leap. Image: NASA
Image: NASA

Created by NASA graphic artist Matthew Skeins, the logo offers a nod to the past with a few elements borrowed from the original program emblem, and a glimpse into the future with a graphic depiction of NASA’s vision for the next half-century of deep space exploration.

The arc through the word “Apollo” represents Earth’s limb, or horizon, as seen from a spacecraft. It serves as a reminder of how the first views of Earth from the Moon – one of NASA’s crowning achievements — forever transformed the way we see ourselves as human beings. It also affirms NASA’s intention to continue pushing the boundaries of knowledge and delivering on the promise of American ingenuity and leadership in space.

The original Apollo emblem, adopted by the program in 1965, used drawings of the Moon and Earth linked by a double trajectory to portray President John F. Kennedy’s goal of “putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” by the end of the 1960s.

In a similar fashion, the Apollo 50th anniversary logo describes a contemporary goal, with images of the Moon and Mars filling the first and second “O”s, respectively, and the phrase “Next Giant Leap” beneath the word “Apollo.” Neil Armstrong declared his first step onto the lunar surface from the ladder of the Eagle lander on July 20, 1969, to be “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

NASA is working to return astronauts to the Moon to test technologies and techniques for the next giant leaps – challenging missions to Mars and other destinations in deep space.

NASA's Exploration Campaign includes US leadership in low-Earth orbit, in orbit around the Moon and on its surface, and at destinations far beyond, including Mars. Credits: NASA
NASA’s Exploration Campaign includes US leadership in low-Earth orbit, in orbit around the Moon and on its surface, and at destinations far beyond, including Mars. Credits: NASA

The original Apollo emblem was a composite design derived from the ideas of NASA employees and contractor personnel. It featured the constellation Orion overlaid on a capital letter “A.” The constellation was positioned so that its three central stars formed the bar in the initial for “Apollo.”

In the 50th anniversary logo, elements of the same star field recall the collective effort of some 400,000 people who worked on the Apollo Program – an 11-year series of 33 spaceflights including six that reached the lunar surface. The three central stars are repositioned diagonally beside “50” to emphasise the many sacrifices made in pursuit of the lunar goal — especially the lives of Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee who perished in a capsule fire during a test on the launch pad in January 1967.

The star field, like the rest of the anniversary logo, is set against a blue nebula as an acknowledgement that  human footprints on distant worlds is not too big a dream, and confirmation that NASA already is working toward that goal.

If you’re looking for the comic connection in this story, then what better way to remind you about Apollo, written Dead Canary Comics founders Chris Baker and Matt Fitch with art by Mike Collins, coloured by Kris Carter – the story of the first moon landing?

Apollo GN - CoverAvailable now (check out our preview here), Apollo is a brilliant full-length graphic novel published by SelfMadeHero and part-funded by Arts Council England, recounting the story of the first men on the moon, unpacking the urban legends, the gossip and the speculation to tell a story about life, death, dreams and the reality of human kind’s greatest achievement in exploration.

• The Apollo 50th anniversary logo is available for download from the NASA Images and Video Library

For more information about NASA’s plan for the future, visit this NASA web page

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", working as an editor, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years. His credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel UK and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines. He also edited STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics, including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare” for Tian Books. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.