Seeing earth from space can expand and transform awareness and inspire awe, changing our perspective forever. In that moment, maybe it is possible that we finally see our personal interconnectedness with our living, ever-changing world. We perhaps see that we are one people; one environment where everything connects—we all live here and in space.
This type of change in both sense and sensibility is called the Overview Effect as suggested by Frank White, a noted space exploration and space development writer and author. The effect is the result of astronauts explaining what it feels like to see the earth from space. The above is an ideational compilation of what astronauts and others have explained, after voyaging to the edge of space. But in a few years, space will become accessible to many more.
In 2016, World View Experience will be offering transformative space travel experiences that will allow six passengers and two crew members to float more than 100,000 feet above the atmosphere, ascending in a fully pressurized flight capsule, under a high-altitude Parafoil, and a high altitude balloon, then float to the edge of space. Large panoramic windows allow for 360-degree vistas, and thanks to in-flight Internet access, the voyagers may share their experiences and images with the world below in real time. After a gentle liftoff, the capsule ascends for about one-and-a-half to two hours, 20 miles above the earth, until it is above 99 percent of earth’s atmosphere. Then, the World View capsule will float down to earth. This is not a wild rocket ride, this is a peaceful ascend/descend, allowing the voyagers to see what only astronauts have seen before. Intro ticket pricing is $75,000 a person, and it is an all-day trip, beginning early in the morning.
I recently interviewed the CEO of World View, Jane Poynter whose life experience has been in space exploration and sustainable technologies. She was one of eight Biosphere 2 crew members, who spent two years in that sealed enclosure. I asked her about her motivations, inspirations, goals, and objectives for World View.
JustLuxe: What lessons did you learn while inside Biosphere that you have taken with you in the creation of World View?
Jane Poynter: I learned quite a lot and there are a few direct lines of education I took from Biosphere into World View. But along the way, actually inside Biosphere 2, I founded Paragon Space Development, which developed technologies for extreme environments. I also, both philosophically and experientially, came to understand and actually see the interconnectedness of all plants and animals to us, how viscerally we are part of our environment, and how inter-reliant all plants and animals and humans are to each other and everything else. Biosphere really changed the way I saw the world, and I wanted to share it, which is one of the goals of our World View project.
JL: Could you explain this further?
JP: Well, it is the World View experience that allows you to really absorb seeing earth from space. It will be accessible, something that space really hasn’t seen before. There will be a time when, on this flight, you will hear the absolute silence of space. You will see the starscape without any light pollution, and you see the sun rise across the curve of earth. And you will see our earth in a cosmic perspective, as a planet. Seeing our home this way has ability to change ideas about everything.
JL: I wrote my first article on Space Tourism about four years ago, and now Forbes believes space tourism will be an active trend in the near future. World View looks like a more practical development, and certainly a less expensive exploration experience than others who have offered this before. How long will the trip be, from take off to landing?
JP: It will be a full day, from start to finish, beginning at early dawn. It will be dark outside when we get in the capsule. And for an hour and a half float up to the edge, over 99 percent of the world’s atmosphere. We get there pre-dawn, so we can see the full glory of space before the sun rises. Then, the sun rises over the earth, we’ll see light coming across the curvature. Then we will slowly come down. We’ll be in the capsule five or six hours. It will be a transforming life experience.
JL: Explain some of the precautions you have made for the safety of those first passengers.
JP: There will be much testing beforehand, we will look at potential problems from every point of view. One of the big things, the Parafoil will be open the entire time, they are unbelievably reliable. In opening them, they turn the capsule into a glider and the capsule can glide down to the ground from any altitude. We are also planning for multiple launch sites throughout the US, as we plan to launch from these sites all year. Right now we are looking in the Southwest, as at dawn the high desert air is clear and calm.
JL: Explain your philosophical as well as practical interest in this project. What thrills you about this, and why at this particular time?
JP: My practical interest is that I want to make space truly accessible to everyone. I also believe in the Overview Effect – that when you see earth from space, you will understand on a deeply visceral level, the true meaning of inter connectedness and sustainability. From a philosophical standpoint, I believe that rarely in anyone’s lifetime, can an opportunity occur that will change human perspective. I feel this is one of those experiences, and I am grateful to be part of creating a cosmic perspective, from being, even for a short time, in and of the cosmos.