Science & Technology

Bonus Chapter: Chris's Journey

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 24:01 min

Chris tells his personal story of becoming an astronaut and gives advice for achieving your goals—no matter where life takes you.

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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I was originally inspired by science fiction. Reading Asimov and reading Arthur C. Clarke, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and some of the great science fiction authors, they revealed a world that didn't exist yet. They sort of gave me as a young person the permission to imagine something that hadn't happened yet. They gave me the permission to imagine myself as someone that I hadn't yet turned myself into. And I think that's really important growing up, to give yourself room to imagine things that haven't happened yet. But I was also lucky that it wasn't all just fantasy. At the same time that I was reading all of those science fiction books, people for the very first time were starting to fly in space. With Gagarin in 1961, and then-- and then the race to the moon all culminating in the summer of '69. And just about the time that I was becoming aware of the world at nine years old, that's when Apollo 11 happened and this combination of fantasy and reality suddenly came together for this little kid living in Canada. And that's-- that's very much not only where the idea formed, but where I could resolve myself maybe to thinking that I could do that-- it wasn't just a fantasy, but if Neil and Buzz could walk on the moon-- and this had all happened just in my lifetime, then maybe I could do something like that as well. The combination of fantasy and reality gave me permission to start changing who I was. When I decided to turn myself into an astronaut, it wasn't hard, it was impossible, by definition. There were no Canadian astronauts, there was no Canadian Space Agency. There was no way from where I was to what I was dreaming of doing. But I looked at the fact that it used to be impossible to fly in space at all, and it sure was impossible to walk on the moon, and yet those things had happened. So even though it was currently impossible, what I learned from Apollo 11 was that things change, and that impossible things happen. That's a really important lesson to learn no matter what stage of life you're at, but especially at nine or 10 years old, impossible things happen. And I don't just mean like, you know, lottery tickets and lightning strikes, but I just reminded myself, well, when I was born, no one had ever flown in space, this is still a new thing. And when Neil Armstrong was born, the word astronaut didn't even exist. So things change. So let's be patient, and let's just start working on who I am. The choices that I made to become an astronaut were to go to university to study mechanical engineering, and then plan to go on to do a master's degree. Take every opportunity that ever comes. If there's a chance to ever get someone else to pay for your education, take them up on it. If someone is willing to teach you something, especially for free, get them to. Information and knowledge is just freedom to choose things. The more you know, the more free you are to make an informed choice in your life. So never miss an opportunity ...

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.

Simply and absolutely, Chris taught me how to live a more complete life, something entirely unexpected but invaluable.

i loved the 1-pager lessons and the anecdotes about lessons learned at different times during his experiences :)

I loved thephilosophy of the class and the insights into interspective goal setting and leadership. As an engineer I was hoping for more technical discussions but I understand that there is a strong possibility that this would have gone over the heads of many viewers and would be seen as uninteresting.

It was a well presented topic that consistently kept me engaged, even though I wasn't as familiar with the source material.


Sergio N A.

i was almost like you Chris, our differences is that I was born in poor country like the Philippines where education like that of aerospace science is not offered until today. When I was 11 years old until about 16 years old my second school in the USIS Library in Davao city, Philippines where aerospace science books are available and I have read almost all available books. I followed the Mercury Project, Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle missions and today the ISS, of course the Russians and currently the Chinese. In fact in 2013 I founded the Philippine Academy on Aerospace Medicine and Biomedical Engineering but it did not live long because we don't have the membership to make it viable. To date I'm the only Filipino member of the National Space Society (USA). Thanks a lot I'm honored to met you on-line...

Roy L.

This has been a staggering and inspiring journey into what it represents the explorer nature of humans!! I feel deeply thankful to Chris for sharing some of his experiences and knowledge about space exploration. I am also thankful to the creators of the master class series. R L G

A fellow student

So far this is the best MasterClass I have taken!! It is so inspiring, beautiful and amazing! Chris has the ability to transmit his passion and knowledge in a very entertaining and pleasant way! Thank you Chris!!

A fellow student

Just finished this class. Thank you @Cmdr_Hadfield for sharing your passion, experience, enthusiasm with us.

Joseph S.

Amazing and brilliant!! I really enjoyed all of the wonderful detailed explanations of rockets, shuttles, history of space travel, the complexity and skill required in training, space walks, the ISS, views from the shuttle and the future of space travel all explained in a way anyone can understand! Thank you so much Chris. Definitely one of my top favorite MasterClasses and I’d definitely be around to watch the next one!

Vincenzo C.

This entire course is full of invaluable insights that I will be carrying along with me moving forward. This has been a truly inspiring experience, and for that I sincerely want to thank Mr. Hadfield.

Jules W.

As a massive space fan, I've loved this entire course. But this bonus chapter struck a cord with me - and had given me some genuine life lessons that I think will make a difference.

Randy M.

My favorite part is Chris reflecting upon himself. I deeply enjoyed his talk about having a goal and using that goal to direct all your many small decisions. He makes it clear to enjoy all your many small successes, whether others understand or appreciate them or not, and to enjoy the journey. Live your life to its fullest.

A fellow student

Chapter 29 is the commencement address I wish I had heard 48 years ago as a young high school graduate trying to figure out “what to do next “. I never really figured it out or made a plan and so went wherever the breeze of life blew me. Chris, if I can invite you to speak at my grandson’s graduation next year please tell me how to do that.

Hassan S.

This was a wonderful class. I am deeply grateful to Chris and the MasterClass team for making it available. It contains some of the ingredients that make us real human beings at our best. Thank you.