In the video Overview 5 astronauts talk about having powerful spiritual experiences in space, and their descriptions match enlightenment experiences. This strikes me as rather more important than you'd think based on how often it is discussed.

Gene Cernan speaking in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon:

I felt that the world was just too beautiful to have happened by accident. There has to be something bigger than you and bigger than me... And I mean this in a spiritual sense, not a religious sense... There has to be a creator of the universe who stands above the religions that we ourselves create to govern our lives.

Anousheh Ansari

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.

The above quote is one of 7 such accounts listed on this page of the Starport Cafe. One of them is by Edgar Mitchell, who described the experience in some detail in Overview:

The other 4 astronauts in Overview were Ron Garan, Nicole Stott, Jeff Hoffman, and Shane Kimbrough. Nicole Stott goes so far near the end of the film as to say everybody who goes to space is changed by it, and puts in terms that, again, to a Buddhist, Taoist, or Hindu would constitute some form of enlightenment experience - an experience of being overwhelmed with awe, of feeling blessed, and connected.

Quote from David Beaver in the video:

As you go into your mind in a contemplative way, the sense of the living reality of the planet becomes obvious. You become more in tune with the natural world. This is very akin to the direct perception that the astronauts have, so it is no wonder that many people have likened the overview effect to a spiritual or meditative experience although it's not exactly that, it's a cognitive shift that very often can produce a kind of meditative experience.

So far the count is 12 astronauts. Or 9 astronauts, one cosmonaut, and two space tourists, if you prefer. Anyone who has been in space counts here. That is already a substantial percentage of all people who have been there so far. Can more of them be added to this tally?

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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia on Overview Effect also lists Rusty Schweikart, Edgar Mitchell, Tom Jones, Chris Hadfield and Mike Massimino (with references probably worth investigating). $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Sep 28, 2015 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ There are two spiritual places in the ISS: the Cupola and the far end of the Service Module. $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2015 at 3:22
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    $\begingroup$ This ABC article about Apollo astronauts also mentions James Irwin and Charles Duke. Alan Bean's experience could also be considered spiritual. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


On Apollo 14, Lunar Module Pilot Ed Mitchell conducted a number of ESP (extra-sensory perception) experiments in secret during the coast period between the earth and the moon. The results of his experiments were published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1971.

DURHAM, N. C., June 21 (AP) —Capt. Edgar D. Mitchell Jr., the, astronaut, said today that four persons on earth participated in the extrasensory perception experiment he conducted during the Apollo 14 flight to the moon early in February.

He said he had used 25 numbered cards in the experiment, in which he attempted to send a thought message to the four persons as to what the symbol on each card was. He said two of the four got 51 of the 200 correct, and the other two were less successful.

The space agency confirmed after the flight that the astronaut had carried out the experiments during his rest periods, but said it was a personal experiment and without sanction of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

He also claims to have had a powerful savikalpa samadhi experience on the way back home, which apparently can be read about here:

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    $\begingroup$ I've added some supporting references to your answer $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 11, 2020 at 8:51

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and astronauts Michael Collins, Ron Garan, Rusty Schweikart, Edgar Mitchell, Tom Jones, Scott Kelly, James Irwin, Mike Massimino, André Kuipers, Chris Hadfield, Sally Ride, and Anne McClain are all reported to have experienced the Frank White-coined overview effect ("a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight").

Total # of cosmonauts+astronauts (count from above): 13.

(references cited on webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overview_effect)


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