Now Anyone Can Own NASA’s Fabled 1970s Graphics Manual
We’re big fans of NASA’s graphics standards manual. You know, the one we wrote about this time. And this time. Oh, and this time, too. You could say we’re a bit obsessed, but can can you blame us? The manual perfectly encapsulates a defining moment in scientific and graphic design history.
NASA issued the manual, developed by New York design studio Danne & Blackburn, in January, 1976. It published just 40 copies, which remain highly collectible. Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth decided to recreate the manual and raised more than $940,000 on Kickstarter last year to do the job. Its backers are just now getting their copies. For those of you who missed your chance to get in early, you can buy the manual for $79.
The manual is not quite a facsimile. The original featured 90 pages within a ringed binder, and the newer version spans 220 pages bound with hard covers. Still, it’s a faithful recreation of a graphic design classic that features details like these:
The manual specified things like which typeface to use on mastheads and letterheads (Helvetica medium) and proper placement of the insignia on vehicles (just below and to the left of the handle on the driver’s side). Ensuring the logomark worked on a space shuttle was trickier. Because the shuttles were covered with heat-resistant tiles, the graphics could be placed only in a few areas that had to be visible in photographs during liftoff. The NASA logo itself had to be smaller than the US flag and the words “United States of America” marking.
Add to all that some truly fascinating design drama, and you’ve got a good read on your hands. But if you’d rather not throw down money for what ultimately became an obsolete graphic design system, you can check out this free PDF. Of course, the digital file doesn’t look nearly so nice on a coffee table.
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