To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

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.

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


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.


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

Chris Hadfield is an amazing human being and story teller. I truly enjoyed every single one of his lectures. Excellent class, kudos to Chris :)

Hadfield is amazing. The classes are a real delight to watch. Insight, technical perspective, poetry and passion. There is nothing you could ask for that Chris is not already sharing with you. An amazing class.

What a cool guy! So grateful I took this class. I love how great of a story teller he is and how passionate he is about what he's sharing.

The content is great and really fascinating and in-depth, but I did miss some sort of assignments, quizzes.


Shelly F.

This segment was hilarious to see a terrified astronaut getting ready to go to space.

Hannan H.

very exciting to start this class! I`m currently reading the Martian Chronicles and thought it would be interesting to take this Masterclass

Bernardo F.

Wow, despite knowing that becoming an astronaut was not an easy thing, I wasn't expecting everything that Chris mentioned... I guess it all makes sense, but unless someone tells you, you never take the time to think about it. Maybe a bit late to become an astronaut now haha, but I hope we still have children saying they want to become astronauts in the future and that we encourage them to.

William D.

I would have liked to have heard more detail on the training. Specifics include; Classroom and/or Simulator. How extensive are the simulators. When you say expert on everything did you take a course on electronic repair and fix broken machinery as part of the training. It was all generalities after saying "learn everything."

Mário Filipe P.

Wonderful insight to Chris life and the amount of knowledge and preparation he had to endure on his way to become an astronaut. I think that one of the most valuable lessons I take from it, is this astronaut mindset on facing everyday of your life as a learning opportunity. I'm always amazed by Chris wisdom and fantastic intellect, but make no mistake, that's the product of a lifetime dedicated to study and to his work, on this ever going flux of new things to learn, skills to master and objectives to conquer. This should come as a strange realisation to everybody who have always understand and lived his own life like this, but I think a lot of people including myself weren't wired to think this way until way later in our lives. That's why I find this lesson so enlightening and incredibly inspiring.

Fernando P.

Wow! Space Exploration... just fascinating. I'm not even working in anything remotely close to this field but it's super inspiring to watch from Hadfield's point of view. I love it!


Great class, I love it. I agree with TS, I would love to know more about the leadership challenges in Utah. What was successful, what failed, what was the overall feeling. This could be extremely helpful not for the space exploration crowd, but for the thousands of managers in the US.

Mary S.

Great MasterClass! I signed up for this not knowing anything about Chris Hadfield. What an awesome teacher! I am an American from San Francisco working in Saudi Arabia as a physician in the middle of this world crisis. I am presently only seeing patients on emergency or urgent basis with mostly telehealth consultations. During the free time in the office I am exploring ways to keep active and the stress level to a minimum. MasterClass was a Christmas gift from my family. It's now my go to place when I need to rejuvenate my senses. Thank you , Chris, for a safe haven to expand my knowledge for my 70+ year old brain.

Maddie W.

Such an engaging and thorough overview of what it means to be an astronaut. "You’ve got to be able to solve your problems in one breath” is a perfect summary of what astronauts train for and aspire to be. I am so excited for the future of space exploration and everything there is to be learned from Chris' experiences. Thank you for being such a genuine and inspiring teacher!

A fellow student

Chris, I watched a collapsed lung procedure after this video. Nerve-racking to watch. Was it hard going through that in training?