August 26, 2006
— Days after confirming
the project's name, NASA has released the logo for its next generation crew exploration vehicle, Orion.
Orion is being developed to carry astronauts back to the Moon and later to Mars. It will succeed the space shuttle as NASA's primary craft for crewed exploration.
Earlier this month, collectSPACE revealed the logo
after finding it inside a NASA internal document that labeled it as "approved".
View NASA's Orion logo animation (2.3mb QT)
During a press briefing held today at the Kennedy Space Center, Orion Project Manager Skip Hatfield described the symbolism behind the insignia, which in addition to being displayed on a screen near him, he wore sewn on to his shirt.
"Obviously, the blue sphere that's in the 'O' of Orion is [a] representation of Earth, and that is our departure point for our journey of exploration," began Hatfield.
"The star field in this particular logo is designed to be a representation of the Orion star system," he continued. "There are 10 stars in the background that represent the 10 NASA centers who have an integral part in helping us be successful on the Constellation exploration vision."
Orion's development is led by Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The other nine centers represented are Ames and Dryden Flight Research Centers in California; Glenn Research Center in Ohio; Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in California; Langley Research Center in Virginia; Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama; Stennis Space Center in Mississippi; and Kennedy in Florida.
"All these centers are bringing their expertise. The very best that NASA has to offer is participating in this vision."
NASA will announce its contractor for Orion on August 31. Two teams, one led by Lockheed Martin and the other a joint effort by Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Co., are currently competing.
Hatfield next turned his focus to the emblem's three large stars that diagonally cross the logo.
"The three stars that are in the foreground of the image represent Orion's belt as well as a representation of the exploration goals of 'Moon, Mars and beyond'.
"And of course the red vector represents our path from the Earth on to these outer destinations," said Hatfield.
The Orion logo was created for NASA by an artist who is no stranger to bold missions to new worlds.
"We're very fortunate that [the Orion] logo was designed for us by a graphic artist by the name of Mike Okuda," said Hatfield.
"Mike has a very extensive background in doing these kind of logos and things for various TV and movie productions and he is probably best known for his work on the Star Trek
As a technical consultant and scenic artist, Okuda has designed the computer displays and other technology for four TV shows and six feature films, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager
. He was recognized for his work with three Emmy nominations.
"That's a big link to us as far as we're concerned, for those of us who are space geeks," Hatfield said with a smile.