ryan-holmesAstronaut Edgar Mitchell was the sixth man to walk on the moon, and upon his return to earth he had a profound mystical experience. Being able to see the earth from space expanded his worldview about human’s role on the planet and the nature of human consciousness. Other astronauts also reported being profoundly affected by seeing the earth from a third-person perspective in space, and Frank White coined this phenomena as the Overview Effect. It’s described as “a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.”

Ryan Holmes was so inspired by this vision of the Overview Effect that he wanted to see if it’d be possible to recreate it for everyone through the power of virtual reality. After a number of different iterations, SpaceVR announced at SVVR Conference and Expo that they have raised a $1.25 million seed financing round led by Shanda Group with participation from Skywood Capital.

I had a chance to catch up with Ryan at SVVR to talk about SpaceVR’s plans to eventually bring live VR feeds from space, the logistics of launching a satellite with VR cameras, and some of the educational and experiential offerings that they plan on providing in the future. Today’s podcast also features an interview with astronaut Edgar Mitchell that I conducted in 2009 at the Institute of Noetic Sciences conference, which is the frontier science research institute that he founded in 1973 to study the anomaly of consciousness.

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Here’s the brief Overview documentary about the Overview Effect that inspired Ryan to start SpaceVR.


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  • Charles

    Great idea

  • Might be a good time to mention there are *ALOT* of cameras facing the earth out in space, such as the International Space Station, a myriad of weather satellites, survey satellites, ect. There are even very frequently updated virtual globe experiences, like Google Earth (is that in VR yet??).

    That astronaut went from black and white TV to seeing the Earth. We see the Earth in HD every day, whenever we like. He got there riding a flaming rocket in a tiny tin can, we see it from a desk/couch. There might be a large disconnect.

    If you want to see virtual awe, try Titans of Space. If that doesn’t move your soul, I don’t think this little satellite will have a pray.

    • zuben

      To paraphrase Frank White, there’s a profound difference between knowledge and experience. So while there exist some 2D glimpses of Earth, the Overview Effect has only been available for only a few humans (astronauts).

      To have a 4D photoreal experience of Earth in VR is as practical as it is profound. I hope it will be public domain. It needs to be.

      • Pistol Pete

        Yes yes yes!!!

  • Pistol Pete

    Another awe inspiring Podcast. Bravo Kent!

  • zuben

    These podcasts are top notch; thank you for your work.