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NASA Slaps Vintage Worm Logo on Next-Gen SLS Mega Moon Rocket

Hello, gorgeous.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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NASA's '70s vintage worm logo is now fully emblazoned across the Artemis I SLS boosters.

NASA/Kim Shiflett

SLS, you are looking fine.

This is a big week for NASA's Artemis moon program. The jumbo-sized Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft capsule are scheduled to roll out to the launchpad for testing ahead of the Artemis I around-the-moon mission. SLS is all dressed up with a vintage-inspired paint job.

NASA is giving a shoutout to the 1970s through the use of its classic "worm" logo, which earned its nickname from the way the letters look like fat, bendy worms. The logo was retired in the early '90s, but continued to show up on merchandise like T-shirts. More recently, NASA revived it for the crewed SpaceX Falcon 9 Demo-2 mission in 2020.

NASA's current logo is known as the "meatball" due to its circular form. I've always had a fondness for the bold worm look, probably because it was the NASA logo of my childhood, and it still triggers visions of space camp and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream.

NASA got a start on painting the worm logo onto the SLS boosters back in 2020, but announced Tuesday the job was finally finished. "The tracks of cable lining each of the dual sets of the five segments have been installed, enabling teams to finish the last bit of painting ahead of the moon rocket rolling to the pad on March 17 for the wet dress rehearsal test," the agency said in a statement.

The wet dress rehearsal involves loading SLS with propellant and it must be successfully passed before NASA sets a firmer launch date for Artemis I. The uncrewed mission will set the stage for future crewed flights. SLS and Orion could take off in May or June. 

Watch this: Starship, Artemis and the race to low-Earth orbit: What to watch in space news in 2022

It's not just the rocket that's rocking the worm. The Orion capsule will also have the honor of wearing the wormy finery as it hurtles into space, creating a visual link between NASA's present and past.