Creating the logo for a NASA Space mission

Designer Seb Lester has created the identity for a NASA Space mission, which is set to take flight in 2020.

Lester has designed the logo for the Surface Water & Ocean Topography Mission, which will aim to give a better understanding of the world’s oceans and surface waters and to provide an early-warning system for flooding.

The identity will be used on mission patches, merchandise, SWOT website and print materials and on the launch vehicle itself. Lester says, ‘My first question to the client was, “Is the logo going into Space?” It is.’

Lester says he was contacted earlier this year by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US and asked to create the logo for the mission.

He says, ‘I had done an interview for Salon magazine where they asked me what my dream job would be. I said I’d love to design for a national Space agency. One of the scientists at NASA saw that and they got in touch.’

Lester says, ‘In discussions with NASA JPL it became clear that the three key words in the mission were “global”, “water” and “flow”. So that was the starting point for my work.’

He adds, ‘I wanted the logo to evoke the earth, rivers and oceans. The arrows represent the swirling flow of eddies in the oceans that are central to SWOT’s focus. I wanted the letterforms to look elegant, modern, aerodynamic and robust.’

The mission is set to launch in 2020 and the logo will be used in the run-up. Lester says, ‘I wanted to create something fairly timeless, not trendy or gimmicky – there is a certain aesthetic to NASA projects.’

He adds, ‘It was a hugely intimidating brief and I wanted to create something that they could be proud of.’

Hide Comments (9)Show Comments (9)
  • Mark van Keulen November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Not a fan at all. Clearly Seb Lester is a very talented individual, but this is doing no-one any favours.

  • D Conran November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Seb Lester is an awesome artist but the logo, doodles and explanation sounds like a school project.

    ‘I wanted the logo to evoke the earth, rivers and oceans. The arrows represent the swirling flow…’

    And no, this isn’t because I’m Envious that I didn’t get a call from NASA!

  • Mark van Keulen November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The more you look at this, the worse it gets.

  • Chris Fawcett November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Oh dear…that does not look like the work of a professional.

    For someone who has really nice work (especially typographical) on his website, he has really screwed up the font here. It’s awful.

  • Matt - November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Soo many companies I want to namedrop while I wait by the phone incase!

    The type is poor – has someone taken a chunk out of that ‘S’?

    As for the marque, it does look like school project to design a sign for a mini roundabout!

    It’s embarrasing, did Seb Lester really do this!?

  • Suvra Naskar November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I am very much interest to work in this project.What is the process to submit my designs.Let me clear pl z..Thanks a lot.

  • D Conran August 12, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Don’t understand how a brilliant typographer could have created such poor type and an icon that looks like a kids design for a mini roundabout sign!


  • Ian Paget November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I love how this project came about. Making someone’s dream come true. It’s not the strongest design but inspiring nether less for designers around the world dreaming to work on something amazing.

  • RitaSue Siegel November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It’s a pity the criteria for selecting a designer was so low. A wish fulfulment is not a substitute for an understanding of abstraction and sound knowledge of typography. The first NASA logo selected by the bureacrats was rejected by the consituency who reverted back to using the “old” logo the new one was supposed to update. This was about 30 years ago. I wrote about it in CA Magazine.

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