The non-profit SpaceBuzz educational foundation is inspired by the ‘Overview Effect’ (see below), that—until recently—only astronauts in space were able to experience. SpaceBuzz wants to enable 10-12 year old children to follow in the footsteps of astronauts and experience seeing Earth from space for themselves and inspire them to become ambassadors of planet Earth. Its educational program consists of three parts, a pre-flight and a post-flight training, with in between a simulated rocket launch in virtual space using 4D Virtual Reality technology while being guided by a virtual embodiment of Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers: “We’re all astronauts of Spaceship Earth, join us”. Scientific research on the effectiveness of SpaceBuzz’s learning goals show positive results.

The SpaceBuzz foundation was founded in 2016, the world’s first SpaceBuzz rocket vehicle was unveiled in December 2018 by co-founder André Kuipers, and in October 2019, SpaceBuzz celebrated its global launch against the backdrop of the famous rocket park at Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA’s center for human spaceflight. The SpaceBuzz rocket visits schools in the Netherlands, France, Italy and Hungary, and is completely financed through private funding.

Out of the 117 billion people who ever lived, only 625 people made it to the space. Only 24 of them have left Earth orbit enabling them to see the Earth from a distance, the first of them being the Apollo 8 crew responsible for the famous Earthrise picture shown above (taken by William Anders on December 24, 1968). It changed their mindset forever.

“We live at a critical moment in human history. The challenges of climate change, food, water and energy shortages as well as the increasing disparity between the developed and developing nations are testing our will to unite, while differences in religions, cultures, and politics continue to keep us apart (…) At this critical moment, our greatest need is for a global vision of planetary unity and purpose for humanity as a whole. For more than four decades, astronauts from many cultures and backgrounds have been telling us that, from the perspective of Earth orbit and the Moon, they have gained such a vision. There is even a common term for this experience: ‘The Overview Effect’. 

It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere.  From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this ‘Pale Blue Dot’ [Carl Sagan] becomes both obvious and imperative.  Even more so, many of them tell us that from the Overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable, if only more people could have the experience!” (Excerpt from ‘Declaration of Vision and Principles‘, The Overview Institute).

Contribute to this article below