Space force

United States Space Force logo unveiled

President Trump unveiled the controversial logo of the sixth and newest branch of the US military services on Twitter, but what is it for and why does it look like that?

The new United States Space Force (USSF) logo has been unveiled.

In a tweet on Friday, President Trump revealed the logo which he said was created after consultation with “top military leaders, designers and others.”

The USSF was created in December after Trump signed legislation to rename the United States Air Force Space Command and make it a separate military entity.

According to its mission statement, the USSF’s responsibilities include “the development of military space professionals and the acquisition of military space systems, the maturation of military space power doctrine, and the organization of space forces to present to our combatant commands”.

Logo creation

The dark blue seal has the organization’s name wrapped around the circular logo, with an arrow-shaped “delta” sign above a globe at its center.

In a statement on Facebook, the USSF said: “The creation of the seal honors the newest armed service that organizes, trains and equips space forces to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and provide capabilities spatial at the articulation. Force.”

Many have pointed out the similarities between the new logo and the seal of the USS Enterprise, the fictional spaceship from the Star Trek TV show. An actor from the series, George Takei, tweeted the two logos side by side with the caption: “There is nothing sacred anymore.”

In its statement however, the USSF notes that the central delta symbol has always been a “central design element in the seal”, first used by the United States Air Force in 1942. The sign has also was used in early air force space organization emblems. dating back to the 1960s, he says.

It is unclear whether the logo was designed in-house or by an external agency. Design Week has contacted the USSF for comment.

What do the creators think?

I would argue that Trump’s Space Force logo has already done its job in taking the debate out of the design world and into the culture. The resemblance to the Star Trek insignia gave the media a good opportunity to fire off plenty of “bold to do” jokes, as well as gleeful ridicule about the US president’s refusal to grow up – but at least the design is talking of them.

That said, you might have hoped we had moved away from the mid-century space race aesthetic. Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump’s new “sixth branch of the magnificent army” moved the conversation beyond all the Buzz Lightyear “to infinity and beyond” vibes? All those arrows penetrating into the unknown feel a little gnarly to me, but maybe that’s the point.

Vicki Maguire, Creative Director at Havas London

We honor these emblems and patches for what they represent, rather than for their design references. As a result, we give them a lot more credit than they probably deserve – many of them are glorified “clip art” – and this is no different: literally, wearing its credentials boldly on its sleeve.

Design is a continuum. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and this brand naturally borrows from previous design tropes. Arrowheads have always been part of military insignia. The planet is reminiscent of the lost PanAm emblem. The orbit and stars give a healthy nod to NASA’s Meatball. And the delta is undoubtedly inspired a bit by Star Trek which, in turn, was inspired by early US Air Force flight insignia.

As with all things Trump, there is a knee-jerk reaction to jump on the hater bandwagon. This brand isn’t great, but it’s not as bad as it could be. I’m sure he will sell a lot of goods and make huge amounts of money. What could be more appropriate from the Trump presidency?

Lily Fletcher, Chief Strategy Officer at Accept & Proceed

At first glance, yes, the similarities are uncanny – but when we look at the logo in the context of its predecessor and the five other military branches, the story becomes more complete.
Ultimately, the new logo is a step towards formality. The use of the authoritative roundel format and color palette gives the previously more cartoonish logo a much stronger sense of gravity. When considering the use of the symbol delta, denoting change, difference or ambiguity, its relevance becomes much more apparent. The satellite ring that surrounds it suggests the conquest of this ambiguity—certainly an ambitious feat!

Another consideration is that in today’s visual language, this symbol could be seen as an indexical signifier of maps and location. While this is undoubtedly relevant to the theme of space travel, is it really the best indicator of space force? What I would say is that this logo conveys the space theme itself, using somewhat ubiquitous symbols. It evolves towards stability and reliability. Promising this level of control over something we know so little about is arguably quite ambitious!

It also seems hard to believe that no one involved with the USSF (presumably people interested in space and potentially science fiction) noticed the resemblance to Star Trek. Maybe a secret Trekkie couldn’t believe his luck when he got this logo approved! Ultimately, the logo is the result of merging the old logo with the rest of the US military branches, rather than stealing a beloved element from pop culture. Who can say that Star Trek was not inspired by the American army at the time?

Daniel Murphy, senior designer at Lewis Moberly

It’s funny, both in the quirky and laughable sense, and beyond the is-isn’t it Star Trek plagiarism question.

First of all, it’s a funny and particular memoir. For how do you “mark” something as grand and yet meaningless as “the command of outer space”? It comes with no visual vocabulary to extract, so by default, as always, the overused visual tropes of mid-20th century sci-fi.

Second, it’s funny in a kind of ironic smile, because it reminds us of how authoritative heraldry is. Like, for example, how the Royal Warrant almost unknowingly delivers credible officiality. And then obviously it’s funny ha-ha, because without that it just looks made up. A fake club, giving no idea what they will actually do. The kind of thing a kid would draw on the side of a box and then sit in it pretending to fly to Mars.

So yes, in summary, it’s funny. Boldly go nowhere meaningful at all.

Tom Munckton, Creative Director of Design and Brand at Above+Beyond

Whatever you think of Space Force, the fact remains that America has a renewed interest in extraterrestrial innovation which, by any nerd’s standard, isn’t a bad thing. To announce the launch (pun intended) of the first new branch of the military since 1947, the president himself revealed the new logo.

Therein lies the paradox: for something so ostensibly futuristic, why is the new logo so decidedly retro? The design language is, as you might expect, a non-ironic composite of all the other male serif, race-tracked logos currently used by the greatest military force on the planet. It is not a surprise.

It’s the other design elements – the ones meant to make it unique – that are the elephant in the room. The central arrow came to NASA’s Space Force via the Star Trek logo (it originally appeared as a red chevron, reaching Earth towards the stars) before returning to reality via Air Force Space Command in the 1980s. So while every military on earth celebrates such clichés as eagles, bears, wolves, and chest-striking mottos, it seems odd that the US military has stuck with the intergalactic cooperation badge. and Interracial by Gene Roddenberry. To some extent, it’s this subtext and humor that helps soften the macho semiotics. What Gene would think of this reappropriation (intentional or not) is another matter.

So while its origins are entirely military, one can only hope that Space Force’s legacy will be something that will benefit humanity as a whole. And since it will be on pajamas and baseball caps for generations to come, Star Trek’s message of inclusion and tolerance has never been more important.

Claire Parker, Executive Creative Director at Design Bridge New York

What do you think of the new USSF logo? Let us know in the commentsbelow.