Designed in 1974 by Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn, the 1975 NASA graphics standards manual – which includes the famous NASA “Worm” logo and other graphics to be used on spacecraft, suits and the like – has been a source of inspiration for everything from some of today’s most popular design trends to hollywood film set designs.
Although the manual was retired by NASA in 1992 in favor of a more updated design language, a pair of New York-based graphic designers – Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth – began a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month with the goal of reissuing the original 1975 NASA Graphics Standard Manual as a high-quality bound book for $79.
The do this, the pair have been working over the past year with Richard Danne – an original creator of the graphics – to bring the manual back into production based off of high-quality scans of his original copy of the manual and supplementary information including essays about NASA culture.
In response – although their intention hasn’t been clarified yet – NASA just released the entirety of the 1975 NASA Graphics Standard Manual online for free as a downloadable in PDF from their own website.
“A driving force and the use of innovative techniques and ideas have brought NASA the image of a get-it-done agency, and the record backs up the reputation. As we move ahead to an even more exciting era in aeronautical research and space exploration, we have added a new tool to enhance and symbolize the progressive path we have always followed. Not as suspenseful as a Command and Service Module splashdown nor as dramatic as a Mariner flyby, it is nonetheless of major importance because it is designed to achieve maximum communication of the agency’s program objectives, both internally and externally. We have adopted a new system of graphics-the visual communications system by which we are known to those who read our publications, see our vehicle markings and signboards and the logotype that unmistakably brands them as NASA’s.”
-From NASA Administrator Richard Truly in the 1975 NASA Graphics Standard Manual
Since there is no formal announcement of the free release, it’s difficult to understand what the agency’s motive was, however Reed believes that the move is a quiet response towards the Kickstarter project. “We can’t say the move is directly responding to our project, but it’s safe to suspect they are related,” Reed said in a recent interview with Motherboard.
Although it appears that NASA believes that the Manual should be in the public domain rather than in the hands of those turning a profit, that doesn’t mean the book won’t be worth the $79. According to Reed, a considerable amount of time and focus has been spent on cleaning up every page from high quality scans.
“From what we see, they are scanning the pages rather quickly and without much consideration for reproduction value,” he said.
“Our scans will be much higher quality, perfectly color balanced, and include the matching spot colors specified in the manual (among other signature elements) — something you don’t really understand through a digital representation.”
With over three weeks left to go in their campaign, the pair have already managed to raise an impressive $600,000. To purchase the book, head over to the campaign’s Kickstarter page. For those who simply want to take a peek at the PDF, head over to NASA.