Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye to the 30th Anniversary Year

This year was many things to many people. Each of us had our own experience that made it special. For me, it was the fact that November of 2017 marked the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution. Looking back, I am grateful for so many people and things that have been part of those 30 years.

Although the book has never been a best-seller, it has been steady and has grown in notoriety over the years. I am deeply grateful that the current publisher AIAA, has seen fit to publish the second and third editions, and have now approved a fourth edition.

I am also deeply grateful to Felix Hoch, Hans Gubbels, Mischa Horninge, and Govert Derix, who organized the Overview Symposium in Kerkrade, the Netherlands. I gave the keynote address at the event and it was a fitting way to celebrate the "birthday" of The Overview Effect.

Of course, I am also appreciative of my friends and colleagues at the Overview Institute, especially David Beaver and Alex Howerton, who have been supporting and promoting the Overview Effect for the past 10 years. In fact 2017 was the 10th anniversary of the inaugural Overview Effect conference, held in Washington, DC, as part of the annual Space Frontier Foundation conference.

Looking ahead, we can anticipate a number of other anniversaries.

For example, it will be the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission in 1968. This marked the first time we had really seen the whole Earth from space and it was also the moment when we first saw "Earthrise" as our home planet seemed to rise above the moon. It will also be the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Overview Institute, which took place at the International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC.

Looking back at all that has happened in the past 30 years, I am excited about the next 30!

Copyright, Frank White, 2017, All Rights Reserved

The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at and 

The New Camelot: the Quest for the Overview Effect is available at Apogee Prime

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


My friend and colleague Dylan Taylor wants us to adopt a different way of thinking about space exploration and development. Instead of "Old Space" and "New Space," he suggests we talk about "Goodspace." (1)

To state it simply, Dylan points out that "Old Space" companies can do good things and "New Space" companies can do bad things. So we should look at what happens in outer space the way we look at what happens on Earth: is it good or bad, for humanity and for the environment?

Thus, Dylan's concern is not Old Space and New Space per se, but all false dichotomies that are neither relevant nor essential. In his essay, he says:

"I would like to offer a new term to describe what I do think is relevant and essential, 'Goodspace.'
 It represents a way of thinking about the world and humanity. Do you believe that the world is inherently cruel, people are selfish and resources fixed and scarce? Or do you believe that the best of humanity thrives on collaboration, that our best days as a species lie ahead of us, and that we can grow the pie for the benefit of everyone?" (2)

Ultimately, ways of thinking shape ways of acting. Goodspace is an optimistic perspective that we can carry outward into the solar system as we occupy a vastly larger ecosystem than humanity has known in the past. It is an exciting opportunity, but one we can fail to use effectively if we have the wrong worldview.

In Dylan's words:

"Going forward, I would encourage all of us to think of space, not in terms of old and new, big and small, government and commercial. Think of it in terms of mentality. Is it optimistic? Is it visionary for what our potential as a species can be? Is it Goodspace? I believe this is the prism we should evaluate space activities through and this should be the standard we hold ourselves to in terms of our personal allocation of time and resources." (3)

I couldn't agree more. Thank you, Dylan.

(1)  Unpublished essay shared with the author, 2017.
(2)  Ibid.
(3)  Ibid.

Copyright, Frank White, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A New Initiative

I want everyone to know that I am participating in a new initiative to bring strategic communications services to entrepreneurial space companies. Brodeur Partners, a communications firm located in Boston, has recently launched the Brodeur Space Group, and I will be working with them as a senior consultant.

We will be holding a free webinar on communications challenges for entrepreneurial space companies on October 18 at 1 pm EST. All are invited and you can register here:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Overview Effect for Children

I wanted to let everyone know about this project, which is being created by Hidde Hoogcarspel in the Netherlands. If you are interested in supporting this work, please get in touch with Hidde at

This is his description of the project:

Space Project
This project is an initiative together with André Kuipers . Wubbo Ockels In his last words, he has shown the core of what we want to achieve very well:

This concept is called 'overview effect' and causes astronauts to fundamentally change their worldview. The term and concept were coined in 1987 by Frank White, who explored the theme in his book The Overview Effect. Research has shown that their mindset has changed significantly since their return to the Earth, with consequent consequences for their attitude and behavior.

The idea is to convey this 'overview effect' to children by actually launching them through virtual and augmented reality so that they can see the planet from space. This creates a generation that has a fundamentally different look and feel to our planet and is capable of being in her splendor for the coming ages.

The reason we want this is that one of the biggest challenges we face regarding our planet is not the development or deployment of the latest technology. We have never been so knowledgeable and innovative. The biggest challenge is whether we are able to fundamentally change our mindset, attitude and behavior. This has proved to be one of the most rebellious things.

Our approach is therefore complementary to initiatives such as the Plastic Soup. They focus on the use of the latest technology to restore what caused man. We have the ambition to reduce the causative behavior of people by constantly changing their mindset. One of the world's most inspiring experiences is the basis for this.

Latest VR / AR technology combined with an education program
Multi-media agency Media Monks develops the Overview effect experience. They specialize in virtual and augmented reality productions. To make it practical and achievable for all children, we create a spaceship / rocket on a durable truck / trailer with moveable chairs and the latest 3D virtual reality headsets. This rocket goes free along the schools, with an education program developed (training, experience, feedback) to ensure that the impact is as high as possible and lasting.

Millions of children worldwide
After consultation with schools and education experts, we have chosen children in group 7 (age range 10 to 11 years) because scientific research shows that children of this age start to think about this type of business.
The concept is developed that it is relatively easy to roll out country for country. The concept will be open source and available free of charge. André will give a presentation to his colleague astronauts at the annual meeting of astronauts this year in France. He will therefore call on other astronauts to embark locally as ambassadors.

Our concrete goal is to fully develop and fund one project in the Netherlands (required: EUR 800,000). However, the concept is open source and will be made available for free so that it can be rolled out worldwide. 

The 'overview effect' foundation will be established as ANBI status (Public Benefit Organisation), making donations deductible.

On November 11th we will officially present the entire project in the Ziggo Dome at the multimedia show of Andre Kuipers. We would like to make an appointment with anyone who is interested to further explain the project.

What makes this project different?

Numerous global initiatives focus on implementing the latest technology and science to restore the effects of human behavior. The Plastic Soup Project cleans up oceans, polluted by our own human actions. The WWF and the likes focuses on restoring rainforest and protection of animals, destroyed by human populations.

Our project has a different angle: we have the ambition to create a fundamental shift in mindset, attitude and behavior by using one of history’s most impactful experiences: the overview effect. Therefor helping millions of children worldwide to find a different angle, mindset and attitude in living and keeping our small, little but very precious planet.

Our partners
We are very happy and proud that we found Andre Kuipers and Bas Beerens to stand behind our initiative. Both are examples of persons being personally inspired by their dreams that seemed unreachable. One was the dream of becoming one of the world's 550 astronauts, the other creating a tool used in every country of the world. Both persons are also known for their profound knowledge and expertise in inspiring people to change their view and behaviour in the world we live in.

Helen Kuipers, André's wife, and Zoran van Gessel (founder Bencis) made themselves available to the board of the foundation. Bas Beerens (founder of Wetransfer) has embraced the project and, for the time being, together with André is the Committee of Recommendation. Both for the Board and for the Recommendation Committee we are looking for further details and coordination with sponsors and stakeholders.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cosmism and Cosmocentrism

As I have been exploring the notion of cosmocentrism, I have been drawn to a group of space philosophers I discovered while writing The Overview Effect. These Russian thinkers in the 19th century developed the idea of cosmism, an idea that included not only the exploration of outer space but also the perfection of humanity.

I wrote about the Russian Cosmists in The Overview Effect, but primarily to demonstrate the philosophical roots of the Soviet space program, as compared with the American. Nikolai Fyodorov, chief librarian in Moscow, espoused ideas so similar to my own that I no longer consider my concepts to be at all radical. Here is a passage I quoted in the book:

"The nineteenth-century  Russian philosopher of space,  Nikolai  Fyodorov, developed  the  idea  of the com­mon task, basing it on a series of striking concepts:

The root idea ... is that human  beings  do not have their  natural horne on Earth;  rather  they are organisms  whose ecosystem  is more properly the whole cosmos.... In Fyodorov's view, everything is alive, from the gigantic suns  of distant  galaxies  to the smallest pebble  under  our feet here  on Earth. Everything is organic:  the  biggest  difference between the life of rocks and the life of human  beings is that they live at differ­ ent  velocities in  time  and  at  different degrees of consciousness in space. Because  people  have consciousness in the highest  degree,  it is their  task to “regulate nature,” not just here on Earth,  but throughout the universe.  2

Fyodorov was a true space philosopher!"

This line of thinking is very similar to what I have expressed in my new book, The Cosma Hypothesis. I wouldn't say I agree with everything Fyodorov had to say, but I like his effort to understand human purpose in the universe. In particular, it is fascinating to see how he turns our idea of "home" on its head, suggesting that we are really cosmic creatures, not Earthlings.

Perhaps most intriguing is the fact that Fyodorov's philosophical thought was translated into practical planning for spaceflight by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

To be Continued.

Copyright, Frank White, 2017, All Rights Reserved

The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at and 

The New Camelot: the Quest for the Overview Effect is available at Apogee Prime

Monday, August 28, 2017

"All Of Us Will Be Cosmocentrists"

For much of recorded history, everyone simply agreed that the sun and the rest of the universe revolved around the Earth. It wasn't a matter of debate and you didn't need to be an astronomer to see that the Earth was a stable platform and the sun, planets, and stars rose and set in the sky in predictable patterns.

There was this little problem with the planets, though. Their motion wasn't that smooth, really. As astronomers observed and recorded their movements through the sky, it became clear that they did some strange things like backing up!

They called it retrograde motion and made up all kinds of explanations for it that preserved the geocentric universe to which they were conceptually wedded. Eventually, though, Copernicus and Kepler made it clear that a heliocentric solar system, with the Sun at the center, would simplify the model and eliminate the anomalies.

I believe the same kind of shift will eventually occur with humans in this century. While we are accustomed to seeing the universe from a very narrow perspective located on Earth, it will become clear that the cosmic perspective is the broadest and most effective way to consider the human place in the universe.

Space exploration, from the work that is accomplished by Earth-based astronomers to the robot probes crawling across the surface of Mars to human spaceflight and off-planet settlements expands our awareness of who we are and where we are in the universe. As this expansion continues, I believe we will, increasingly, see ourselves as "citizens of the universe."

And we won't think of it as being something extraordinary.

Copyright, Frank White, 2017, All Rights Reserved

The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at and 

The New Camelot: the Quest for the Overview Effect is available at Apogee Prime

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"I Am a Cosmocentrist"

What does it mean to be a cosmocentrist? It means that you look at everything from the perspective of the greatest whole system of which we can be aware, which is the cosmos, or universe. The universe is evolving, and we human beings are evolving with it. It is understandable and somewhat appropriate that we are incredibly anthropocentric, ie, focusing on humanity, because that is where our consciousness is at the moment.

However, we now know enough about the universe of which we are a part to start identifying with it. I have noted that many of the astronauts interviewed for my book, The Overview Effect, speak about the universe almost as much as they speak about the Earth.

I am now working on a new book, The Cosma Hypothesis, and in it, I am documenting what astronauts have said about their perceptions of the universe as a result of their spaceflights. One of the most significant quotes in that regard comes from Al Sacco, Jr., a shuttle payload specialist. It was in The Overview Effect, but I think it is even more relevant to The Cosma Hypothesis.

People ask why you would risk your life to fly in space,  and I tell them it's in response to a dream and a vision. Once you get into space,  I tell  them  about  something  I call “The  Astronaut's Secret.” It's  a realization all of the astronauts have, which is that we are a member of the whole human family. It goes beyond even being a citi­zen of the Earth;  you are really a citizen of the universe.  When  you are  in orbit,  you ask yourself, "Why  do people  have the differences they have down on Earth?" You see that the Earth is just a small part of a large  universe, and you have a feeling about it that is hard to describe.

Al Sacco, Jr., in The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, Frank White, AIAA, 2014

I hope this quote will explain why I am a cosmocentrist and why all of us are likely to become cosmocentrists as more people experience the Overview Effect.

(To be continued.)

Copyright, Frank White, 2017, All Rights Reserved

The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at and 

The New Camelot: the Quest for the Overview Effect is available at Apogee Prime