December 13, 2018 at 3:39 pm by Frank White
Make no mistake about it: Virgin Galactic's flight today is a BIG DEAL. It means that we are closer than ever to the moment when any one of us might be able to experience the Overview Effect directly and completely. I believe we will look back at this day with some of the same sense that history was being made as we have over the past 60 years of other amazing achievements in spaceflight.
Virgin's two pilots on the Unity spacecraft became astronauts by reaching an altitude officially designated as "space." They are the first human beings to do so on a private, or non-governmental, spacecraft. More important, however, is what comes next, when Sir Richard Branson and his team begin flying the hundreds of people who have signed up to take a suborbital hop, experience weightlessness, and see the Earth from a distance. So far, some 550 government employees and/or a few private citizens have had this fantastic experience of the Overview Effect, a cognitive shift in worldview that takes place when one sees the Earth from space or in space.
I believe, and many others have come to believe, that when this takes place on a large scale, life on our planet will begin to change in fundamental ways. Our world will change because our worldview will change.
I had the privilege of interviewing Sir Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Galactic, for the third edition of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution. He made it clear in our conversation that he wants to "democratize space" and give everyone the opportunity to have this extraordinary experience. As he said, "Space travel needs a new birth, because governments can only go so far with things, and if we can tap into the desire to go into space, incredible things can come from it."
Incredible things indeed!
Copyright, Frank White, 2018, All Rights Reserved
The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at aiaa.org and amazon.com
The New Camelot: the Quest for the Overview Effect is available at Apogee Prime