In the last few years, there has been a flurry of Space related activity. The International Space Station has been continuously inhabited since 2000 and we now have commercial firms at the forefront of space exploration. SpaceX performed one of the most expensive PR stunts of all time by launching a Tesla into orbit. More recently, the first American spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts since the retirement of the space shuttles launched. A successful mission could put NASA and the United States on the cusp of a renewed era of human spaceflight. It’s also another step in the SpaceX objective of sending people into space and eventually to Mars.
As we go about our day to day on Earth, it’s almost impossible to imagine all of the activity going on in orbit around our planet. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to comprehend the perspective that we are on a planet, protected from space by a thin blue atmosphere, spinning in infinity. It just does not seem likely when you are sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Even though we are familiar with the images of Earth from space, we still forget our place in the universe – our impossibly tiny and beautiful planet in the vastness of space. How quickly we became accustomed to the astonishing feet of space travel, and the incredible perspective of looking at our home from space is a testament to the remarkable adaptability of our species. Even in the hey day of space travel, the Apollo 13 mission didn’t make the news until it went wrong – we are hard to impress, we forget easily.
This is an invitation to take a moment and remember. To remember that this planet is our only home.
In 1968, the manned Apollo 8 mission went into space to orbit and photograph the moon. As it approached the moon there was a televised broadcast and one of the astronauts said he would turn the camera around to look at the earth. That was the moment that humanity had an entirely new perspective of our home – we saw for the first time, our blue jewel of a planet hanging in the blackness of space and our consciousness changed forever. Astronauts talk about the ‘overview effect’ which is a feeling of overwhelming awe and gratitude that washes over them when they look at our planet from space. It is a feeling of deep understanding of the oneness of all life on earth. They talk about its alive dynamic beauty shining all the time in the blackness, the line of shadow moving across the surface as day chases night, the brilliant flashes of thunderstorms in the atmosphere, the solar winds bending around the atmosphere and creating dancing curtains of auroras throwing out spectacular light shows and how the planet comes alive at night as the cities and towns across the globe light up. The short film The Overview Effect inspired our Space Peacebeam.
The image of our planet from space is one that is familiar now, but it has always made me feel a huge upwelling of emotion, whenever I see the image, whether a photograph or the opening credits to Blue Planet, I feel pure love, for our home. That was what I wanted to convey in this Peacebeam – that simple reality that we all forget: we think the sky goes on forever, but in reality, we are on a spinning, living planet, hurtling through space at 70,000 miles per hour, only protected from the harshness of space by our delicate atmosphere. We are part of a complete system where every living thing is connected to and dependent on every other living thing for life. Our oneness and interconnectedness is not just a concept or an idea it is a living reality.
Take a minute now and look at this image of our home and remember this: every single being that you love lives there – every single one. It is precious beyond any conceivable measure. Our ideas about separateness and isolation seem absurd in the context of that perspective because we are all, right now, in space on spaceship earth and it is where we belong, on this oasis of life against the backdrop of infinity.
Watch and listen to our peacebeam ‘Space’ here.