Donald Trump’s long proposed plan for a military-based “Space Force” moved from dumb idea to dumb visual design this week, as Trump tweeted out a new logo for the nascent organization of astronauts-but-hey-they’ve-got-guns. And lo, but the internet looked at this thing for about five seconds, squinted its eyes, and then declared: “That’s just the fucking Star Trek logo, you embarrassing pieces of shit.”
And so, indeed, it was:
The history of Star Trek insignia is one of those wormholes that can end up eating an entire afternoon; the original arrow emblem was designed by the series’ famed costume designer, William Ware Theiss. (Whose somewhat infamous theories on costuming the show’s female cast would probably be right in line with a Trump-headed space organization, anyway.) Various eras and missions of the show have altered the look, with one of the Starfleet Command insignias that most resembles the new Space Force logo reportedly dating from a 1996 episode of Deep Space Nine.
But while we might want to rag on Trump’s dumb new goal of playing with his astronaut soldier toys in space, it’s not like Star Trek and real-world space organizations trading design ideas is anything new. The Starfleet mission patches have been consciously patterned on NASA designs for years—the original Apollo emblem is an especially close match—and the real-world agency, in turn, has never been shy about adopting names, images, and more from TV’s most enduring vision of interplanatary exploration. (It’s not for nothing that Mike Okuda, co-author of the Next Generation Technical Manual, and one of the people primarily responsible for the look of modern Trek, moved on to NASA after his 18-year tenure with the series ended.)
Of course, there’s an extra, timing-based bit of irony to all this, given that the logo was released just a day after the premiere of Star Trek: Picard, a show that takes steady aim at the idea of the Federation’s moral infallibility as a direct reaction to modern political concerns. We have to assume we’re only seconds from seeing a video of Patrick Stewart growling “It was no longer Starfleet” at a flummoxed reporter, images of the Space Force logo flickering across the screen.