Is Experiencing the Overview Effect a Human Right?

September 13, 2015 at 4:58 am by Frank White

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