Throughout the previous five decades of manned spaceflight, astronauts and cosmonauts have reported that their direct perception of space, and the Earth hanging in it, produced unexpected emotional reactions and intellectual, perspective, perceptual and paradigm shifts.
These shifts naturally included a greater and more accurate sense of the reality of the universe and the nature of the Earth as a planet in space. But it often included new or intensified insights into how this re-contextualizing from "life in the world" to "life on a planet" changed their understanding of many other aspects of life, from the environment to politics to resources, energy and humanitarian issues in general.
Several astronaut descriptions of their Overview experiences are as follows:
Sixth Man on the Moon
"There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught… I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it.… I was overwhelmed with the sensation of physically and mentally extending out into the cosmos. I realized that this was a biological response of my brain attempting to reorganize and give meaning to information about the wonderful and awesome processes that I was privileged to view."
Astronaut Thomas Jones
Four-time Space Pilot
“On my four space shuttle flights… I struggled constantly to make sense of an avalanche of new sensations and perceptions.”
"It was like drinking from a fire hose of information... I had heard of the Overview Effect but, having done many extreme things in my life... skydiving, mountain climbing, visiting the Titanic and Antarctica, I didn't think it would greatly affect me... That is until... I got into space! My life has changed because of my space experience."
Astronaut Don L. Lind
STS-51-B Mission Specialist
"Intellectually, I knew what to expect. I have probably looked at as many pictures from space as anybody…so I knew exactly what I was going to see…. But there is no way you can be prepared for the emotional impact... It brought tears to my eyes."
Astronaut Edward Gibson
Skylab 4 Science Pilot
"You see how diminutive your life and concerns are compared to other things In the universe… The result is that you enjoy the life that is before you… It allows you to have inner peace."
"The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that's hard to put to words… It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable.... All these things that may seem big and impossible ... We can do this. Peace on Earth – No problem. It gives people that type of energy ... that type of power, and I have experienced that."
Cosmonaut Oleg Makarov
Spent 20 days in space
"Something about the unexpectedness of this sight, its incompatibility with anything we have ever experienced on earth elicits a deep emotional response... Suddenly, you get a feeling you’ve never had before… That you’re an inhabitant… of the Earth."