Science & Tech

Astronaut Training

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 19:50 min

To become an astronaut, you have to become an expert on everything. Chris outlines the scope of an astronaut's training from leadership skills to survival skills.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Forget the Movies • You’re an ASCAN Now • Become an Expert in Everything • Train to Survive Emergency Landings on Earth • Learn Leadership Techniques for Survival • See the Body as a System • Become an Astronaut of the Future


When I was a kid, I watched Star Trek. And I thought all astronauts were the cast of Star Trek. You know, they were Captain Kirk or Spock or Jean-Luc Picard or those sort of Hollywood stereotypes-- the Hollywood personifications of what we all sort of think astronauts are. And gosh, if you watch "Space Cowboys" or "Armageddon" or something, they're arrogant, thrill seeking, damn the torpedoes kind of people. And we're not like that. In fact, astronauts don't like adrenaline in their veins. You don't want to be thrilled by what's happening. You don't want to be overwhelmed by what's happening. You want to be calm and cold and calculating and aware and competent. Like if you get onto an airliner and you're about to take off-- you're in the passenger-- and you lean forward and you see the crew up there, you don't want them to be high-fiving each other and cheering. Or you don't want them to look all terrified sitting up front. What you're looking for is people who have practiced and who understand it. And no matter what happens, they are calm and ready and competent. You don't want someone who is up there supercharged and going, you know, watch this, with the airplane. You want the commander of your airplane to be as ready and capable to fly that ship as possible. And for the astronauts, we have to take it to a whole other level. You show up at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. You drive in. There's the great big NASA sign. And you got a badge that says your name and NASA on it. And you show up, but the office is full of people who have flown in space, who've walked on the moon, who have that experience that you're still just dreaming of. You go again from middle school to high school, even in the astronaut office. And even worse than that, you're not even an astronaut yet. You're an Astronaut Candidate, which the unfortunate abbreviation is an "ASCAN." You go from being whatever you were before-- the top of that-- to now, you're an "ASCAN." And I walked into my office that they'd assigned me. It had my name just in paper on the door because I hadn't been there long enough. And sitting next to me was Norm Thagard, a medical doctor and Vietnam War veteran, who was sitting there studying Russian because he was going to be the first American to fly on the Mir Space Station. So there's Norm in the corner, mumbling away in Russian. And the other disk beside me is John Young. John Young, who flew in space six times. He did the first flight of Gemini. John went to the moon twice. John walked on the moon. And John did the first flight of the space shuttle. He was the commander of the first space shuttle. And he was the chief of the astronaut office for decades. And John is sitting at the desk beside me. And I sit down at my desk and I'm thinking, what on earth am I doing here? You know, I'm an idiot next to these people. I have no idea what my job is. And I really felt like an "ASCAN." When you show up in the astronaut off...

About the Instructor

Impossible things happen. At age nine, Chris Hadfield knew he wanted to go to space. He eventually went there three times, becoming a commander of the International Space Station. In his MasterClass, Chris teaches you what it takes to explore space and what the future holds for humans in the final frontier. Learn about the science of space travel, life as an astronaut, and how flying in space will forever change the way you think about living on Earth.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Chris Hadfield

The former commander of the International Space Station teaches you the science of space exploration and what the future holds.

Explore the Class
Sign Up