Space force

New Space Force logo sparks controversy

President Trump unveiled the new Space Force logo on Friday, and critics were quick to point out its similarities to the Starfleet logo.

On Friday, January 24, President Trump unveiled the new Space Force logo on Twitter. In the accompanying tweet, the president said the logo was created in consultation with military leaders, designers and “others.”

Almost immediately after the logo’s release, commenters on Twitter began pointing out the new logo’s similarity to the one used in the popular Star Trek franchise. Both logos are round, feature a central delta symbol surrounded by an orbital flight path and the name of the organization on its border. The similarities are so striking that Star Trek’s star original series George Takei tweeted, “Hmm. We expect royalties…”

The reality of the similarities, however, is much more complex. The original Star Trek logo was created by original series costume designer William Ware Theiss in 1964. When creating the logo, Theiss was inspired by the NASA logo which featured a more abstract delta symbol in more of the iconic orbital flight path.

The next key piece of the puzzle is the Air Force Space Command logo created in 1982. This logo featured a central delta symbol, two orbital flight paths, a stylized planet, and stars. However, instead of a round patch, this logo is built on a basic shield and scroll shape. Here, the delta symbol is more reminiscent of the Star Trek symbol, but the shape ensures it doesn’t draw the same comparisons.

Finally, it is important to note that the United States Armed Forces draws inspiration from the logo of the military unit/branch that is being replaced when creating a new logo. Accordingly, when creating the Space Force logo, the designers used the delta symbol, stylized planet and stars from the Air Force Space Command logo, and the orbital flight path from the NASA logo. in a round “mission patch” shape. The shape is not unique and is almost universally used in mission patch applications. So the space logo design path is not difficult to follow.

It’s hard to say for sure if the designers of Space Force were implicitly or even unknowingly inspired by the Starfleet logo. However, in an industry that uses a very narrow design language, similarities are inevitable.

The delta symbol that is a key element of the Starfleet logo, for example, features in no less than three other national space program logos. The logos of Roscosmos of Russia, the Indian Space Research Organization and the National Space Administration of China all display the symbol prominently.

Space agency logos.
From left to right: Space Force, Air Force Space Command, Starfleet, Roscosmos, China National Space Administration and Indian Space Research Organization logos