Science & Tech

Conclusion: The Future of Exploration

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 11:23 min

In his parting words, Chris reflects on the cyclical nature of human exploration and Earth’s place in outer space.

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Topics include: Explore, Understand, Choose, Settle • Push Yourself to Live a Full Life • Find Your Place in Space


Exploration is our history. It's the legacy that got us to where we are, and it's always been that way. We live someplace for a while, and then either the conditions are good enough or desperate enough that some of us leave and go somewhere else and explore. And once we've explored a bunch of places, then we say, you know what? Some of us are going to go from here to that place, because it looked interesting. It looked worth going to. And we start settling somewhere else. And we've been doing that for thousands and thousands of years all around the planet. I think our latest guess is the native peoples of Australia got there like 70,000 years ago. But some parts of the world we've just very recently got to. The very first human beings only got to New Zealand like 750 or 800 years ago. No human had gotten that far. That's not very many generations. The first of us to get to Antarctica-- that was only really one long human lifetime ago, just a little over 100 years ago. And we've only been going to space for just a little over 50 years. The pattern has always been explore, understand, choose, and then maybe go and settle sometime later. And we've been exploring space for most of my lifetime. We've been looking around, seeing. We've even sent probes beyond Pluto now-- right outside our solar system, in fact, with Voyager. But we decided about 30 years ago that the place we should settle first in space is orbiting the world. We should build a permanent habitation as a species-- not just one country, but as a lot of leading nations in the world. Let's colonize space, and we built the International Space Station. And starting in the fall of 2000, we started permanently living off the Earth. We went through that exact same pattern of exploring, thinking, choosing, and then starting to settle in a new place. And we will go from the space station where we're testing equipment right now that keeps us safer eventually to the moon-- the moon, I think, pretty soon. And then from the moon, we'll have learned enough things and tested. And just like all our forebearers did, we can go further. We can go as far as Mars. We have a lot of stuff to learn. We have to invent stuff we haven't even realized we need to invent yet, but I'm not impatient. I'm delighted. We're doing stuff that was impossible when I was a kid that no human had ever done. We have six of us permanently living off the planet right now, and we sort of take that for granted. It's good that we're impatient. It helps drive us to do things we've never done before. I think it's just a continuation of the fact that we are explorers, and our technology is just good enough now that we can be space explorers. I sure can't speak for everybody else. In my particular limited view of the world, you get given one set of capabilities-- this body, this brain, this particular combination of capabilities to do things. And to squander it-- to not do what you're capable of doing, to no...

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.

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Chris Hadfield

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

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