Thursday, December 24, 2015

What the SpaceX Accomplishment Means

            Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, has now safely landed a rocket that was once in orbit, which means that it can be used again. As Musk pointed out in a teleconference after the successful mission, this reduces the cost of leaving our planet by a significant amount. Not long before this, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin team accomplished something similar with a suborbital flight and landing.
            Musk, Bezos,  and their teams need to prove that they can do it again and again, of course, but the key point is that we now know it can be done, and this will encourage many private companies to think about what they can do in orbit and beyond when the cost of access to space is dramatically reduced.
            Musk says that it makes the building of a city on Mars far more feasible, while I imagine many more people experiencing the Overview Effect, the experience of seeing our home planet from space and in space. We have a long way to go from the time when an unmanned rocket can morph into a spacecraft carrying human beings, but we are getting there.
            Over a 50-year period, governments have managed to give some 550 people the Overview experience, and it has already brought profound changes in how we see ourselves, our planet, and our future.
            As private companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic compete to multiply those numbers, we can expect even greater changes in human consciousness and societyand that might be the most important outcome of the SpaceX accomplishment.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Is Experiencing the Overview Effect a Human Right?

Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, I have been developing the theory of the Overview Effect, and thinking about this phenomenon. The profundity of the spaceflight experience continues to impress me, and draws me further into its examination. Now, many others have joined in this effort, for which I am very grateful.

Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that if the Overview Effect is so important, everyone should have the opportunity to experience it, not just astronauts or those who can buy a ticket on a commercial flight. In fact, given the positive results that might accrue from large numbers of people having the experience, it seems that it is almost an obligation to find ways to make that to happen.
Options today are limited, but in the future, there will be a number of private carriers willing and able to give people a taste of the Overview Effect, and there will also be virtual reality journeys into orbit and beyond. Providing the experience to everyone will no longer be an impossible dream.

Therefore, I think it is appropriate to ask, "Is experiencing the Overview Effect a human right? If so, why; if not, why not?" This is, I think, a very important aspect of developing a philosophy of space exploration, one of the tasks I set for myself when I wrote The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution. Rather than answering the question here, I would rather open it to a dialogue among all those who care about these kinds of issues.

If you are interested in this topic, but know very little about it, you might want to read the book, which is available at: or

Saturday, September 5, 2015

SETI Goes Mainstream

            Within a couple of days of one another, two announcements helped to bring the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) into the mainstream media in a big way.

            The first told us that a Russian billionaire, with the support of well known cosmologist Stephen Hawking, would be putting $100 million into the search, with a focus on scanning a million stars for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. “Breakthrough Listen” represents a major step forward in funding for SETI.

            The second told us that the search for exoplanets had found a “cousin” to the Earth, though not quite a twin.

            I say that SETI went mainstream, because I heard these announcements discussed not only on National Public Radio but also on a sports radio talk show!

            This is part of a trend of greater interest in news about space exploration, and although SETI is not always considered part of that endeavor, it really should be.

            SETI is also related to the Overview Effect, because I use Overview theory in my book to predict creation of three different civilizations on the Earth and beyond, one of which is Galaxia. This civilization involves contact with ET, and the development of a galactic civilization. According to the theory, it also involves having an “overview” of our galaxy, comparable to the overview we have achieved with our home planet.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thoughts on the Third Edition of The Overview Effect

Why is it that The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is now in its third edition? As the author, I am grateful for the fact that my life's work has survived for nearly 30 years, when it has never sold a lot of copies and has not been heavily promoted or marketed.

In the next few blog posts, I am going to share with you some of my thoughts on this subject, because I believe that the answers point to something much larger than the book, or me, or the dramatic changes in the publishing industry that have taken place over the past three decades.

My initial thought is this: the book continues to be useful, and therefore to be published, because the astronaut interviews are valuable in a timeless way. Here we have, in a Q&A format, descriptions by 29 people who have experienced something remarkable: seeing the Earth and the universe from space and in space. I am willing to grant that everything I have written in the first two sections of the book may turn out to be wrong or incomplete. However, these interviews will be useful in the present for those who want to understand the spaceflight experience, and in the future as an important historical record of a unique moment in the history of our planet and our species.

I invite you to read just a few of these interviews and let me know if you agree. The book is available at: or www.