|View from the cupola on the ISS - I want to go there|
The trip of my dreams, you say? Anywhere in the world, you say? Is low earth orbit still "anywhere in the world"? Like many Gen Xers, I grew up fantasizing about NASA, space travel, and the now decommissioned space shuttle program. I subscribed to Odyssey magazine, fantasized about space camp, and devoured picture books with high level schematics of the space shuttle and various rocket programs. I watched two space shuttles explode, live on television. I like astronaut ice cream. I love planetarium shows to this day. I have a couple of night sky oriented apps on my phone I was a space junkie then and probably would be considered a closet fanatic today.
So, my dream trip would find me coughing up $200,000 and putting my faith in successful nutjob Richard Branson so I could rocket into space. Since this is a dream trip, let's make a pitstop at the ISS so I can check out the cupola. But probably the biggest reason for my dream trip into space is the chance to experience the Overview Effect. Described as a cognitive shift in reality, the overview effect is a phenomena many astronauts experience when they see the entire planet from space. I do think I have experienced its earth bound version. It would be something like an inverted Overview Effect I suppose, or the feeling you get when you shift to wide angle vision when staring into a clear starry sky that runs horizon to horizon. I remember two distinct occurrences; once while camping in the heart of the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix and the other while backpacking deep in Olympic National Park. It's a deeply powerful experience that produces a euphoric sense of interconnectedness.
The Overview Effect has been likened to an enlightened state produced during meditation. A taste of enlightenment without all the "work"? That's icing on the cake that is my dream trip to Earth's orbit.