Science & Technology

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.

Chris Hadfield
Teaches Space Exploration
In 28+ lessons, the former commander of the International Space Station teaches you the science of space exploration and what the future holds.
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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...

Explore the unknown

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.


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

More than I can fit in this box, but Cmdr Hadfield's philosophy was the biggest take away from this course. How do you deal with risk? With loss? With the biggest ambitions? Why do you push past your limits? All of those things this class helped me frame.

I took this course as a "fun" way to take a break from the film and music courses for which I signed up for. But I quickly became more interested in the subject and stuck with it till the end. I am not going to pursue space exploration, but I got inspired to reach for the stars in my own way.

He makes the experience of being in space very real. For every/any ‘would be’ astronaut.

I am 13 years old and have a very strong interest in space exploration. I have always wanted to learn more about the ISS, Mars, etc and now I have. I enjoyed this class very much and look forward to taking other classes. I do think there should be more classes about science, astronomy, genetics, etc.


A fellow student

Absolutely looking forward to helping progress man kind as we progress further and further into the unknown! We are living in the most exciting time right now that humans on earth have ever seen! It brings me pure joy to know that we will expand and the human species will live on and thrive in this ever expanding universe.

Victoria C.

I loved the piece about being a generalist and needing multiple skills. I feel like my brain allows me to do that.

A fellow student

By far this is the best Masterclass I've seen. Worth the $180 bucks just for this one alone.


Wonderful lesson- more than 70% of the surface of the Earth is covered by water, so survival here is of crucial importance. Am looking forward to hearing if there is any overlap with ocean exploration survival training. We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the depths of the oceans..... So inspirational - thank you Chris Hadfield!

Ken C.

Very interesting and enjoyable. While I am a specialist in my job, I am also a generalist in troubleshooting computing systems. I appreciate the need for both types of skills. Col. Hadfield is an excellent presenter.

Marilyn D.

Wonderfully thought provoking and engaging and I'm only on the first Lesson. Going from the top of your field to an "AsCan" and bottom of the class, I love it. Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield says you have to go back to being a generalist and work towards being an expert in everything. That one statement alone challenges the derogatory use of the 'jack of all trades' description which I used to worry about as I expanded my fields of expertise. In the picture below is my quick answer about why I'm taking this class. Weirdly, I have already met my Purpose and expectation and I'm only 5 minutes in! Fourteen minutes in Chris shared a BRILLIANT leadership experiment which I can adapt for my Leadership Development Corporate Workshops. I love this MasterClass Series. It was an awesome Christmas gift to myself. Marilyn Devonish The NeuroSuccess Coach

Rosie G.

OMG...what an engaging speaker....humble and intelligent and a great raconteur. I am hooked. Thanks Chris, thanks MasterClass

A fellow student

So from the survival part, I understand that Shark Repellant is standard piece of equipment in the survival gear! I did not even know SR is a thing. This is the best fun fact I´ve come across in a long time! Any information about what type of SR the astronauts have available is highly appreciated! Also considering the cost per pound of getting stuff in orbit, what assessment was done to include this? I'm living in a shark-free area so for me shark attacks are super rare, and I thought, even globally rare.


"Be an Expert in Everything". We've been growing up thinking we should be good at only one thing and focus just on that. I appreciate this statement where Chris sir tells us the importance of being all-rounder.


I think it was great and I did not know that I had to train and study so much and what he said about the body like you have to know when how to get a piece of metal out of your eye. Come to think of it is kind of like half doctor have astronaut