Science & Technology

Rockets: What It Feels Like to Launch

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 14:11 min

Only a few hundred humans have ever traveled to space. Chris describes in precise detail the emotions an astronaut feels on launch day and the physical feeling of leaving Earth.

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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SPEAKER: Chris Hadfield, a member of the Canadian Space Agency, and one of our space walkers on this flight. It's time to go to space. It's an incredible morning to wake up when you know that this is the day that you're leaving Earth. This is the day that you've been dreaming about, where you are going to go out and climb into a rocket, and blast off the planet. And by the end of the day, you are going to be effortlessly, weightlessly orbiting the world. It's a day that you don't take lightly. It's a day that you've prepared for intensively your whole life. You wake up-- my first flight was at the Kennedy Space Center. You're in this quarantine facility. You've been in quarantine for a week so that you don't catch a cold and so you can really gather and organize your thoughts and be ready to go. They start building the space suit around your body. It's a complicated protective pressure suit. So you have to wear all the right non-flammable undergarments. And then you go into the suit-up room. The technicians are quiet and respectful and competent in getting you properly dressed-- this enormous zipper that goes up your back like some big body bag zipper. It's just kind of bizarre. They check the pressure of your suit, make sure all the communications are working. You're sort of laughing and telling jokes with the other crew members. You know, you're in the final stages of doing something very demanding but that you've tried to be as ready for as any human being could be. You come out of the suit-up room, you ride down in the elevator, and then you walk out to get into the van. And that's the moment everybody sees you, where there's all the flashing lights and some people have got the right pass. They come in and see the astronaut walk out. And they even tell us how to wave. You practice waving so that you don't block your face. You'll notice there that all the astronauts are waving down low so that their hand doesn't block, inadvertently, the camera's view of somebody else's face in those pictures. We even worry about the walk out. That's how much training we do. You go over, you get into the van that takes us out to the launch pad. Predictably enough, it's called the Astro Van. And the van comes out of the quarantine facility and starts the multi-mile drive out to where the spaceship is there waiting for you. And it's pretty amazing to come around that corner at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and in the distance, you see your spaceship. And that's how you feel about it. It's not "a" spaceship, but this is your spaceship. It's waiting for you and your crew to get on board. And often, it's still predawn because if we can, we like the nice still, calm air that's in the morning, as opposed to the violent, stormy Florida air in the afternoon. And so the space ship is even dramatically lit. It's got these huge xenon lights. It almost looks like some great iconic obelisk that we've artistically lit just for maximum art...

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.

This was such an inspiring and informative class.

This class was simply amazing. Chris Hatfield explained space exploration in one of the most effective ways I have ever seen from a instructor.

While I will never be an astronaut, Chris Hadfield's story and manner are inspirational and applicable to anywhere I want to go. Thank you for this lesson.

I love how Chris encouraged and inspired us, he opened my eyes to the possibilities of being part of the space exploration. I learn a ton about the tips and mentality to success from his experiences and that meant a lot to me. Thanks a lot Chris!!!



well it gave a lot of details and the more I keep watching this master class the more I want to be an astronaut and go to space

A fellow student

I found myself in tears watching this lesson. It is full with emotion, so enchanting! Thank you so much for bring each of us up there with you

David M.

Watching this lesson I was reminded of the line Ellie makes in the movie Contact, "They should have sent a poet." We did send a poet and his name is Chris Hadfield.


Wow, he is such a storyteller! It’s so full of details and emotions that makes it very immersive and exciting. I love it.

A fellow student

I was hanging on every word, Chris. As you were describing having to force your lungs to expand, I felt myself doing the same - your description of the launch was incredible!


What a great lesson! It was riveting, even though Chris kept his voice calm and even (I imagine that's how he flies). I'm so thankful that he is willing and able to share that experience!

A fellow student

What a great description of what happens on launch. It's a shame that we don't have such a program any longer.

A fellow student

Great lesson and great description of how the astronauts feel during launch. I just wish there was MORE FOOTAGE of it. Please add some onboard footage of the launch. Stuff we haven't seen yet!

A fellow student

I am curious, but for more than it seems. How many of us felt our blood pump through your heart and the arteries in our neck's pulse when those very words that processed in your mind? "Now you are in space" I too have been on the path since a child.

Philip C.

This is a terrific lesson. What better way to learn about it than from Chris, a former elite astronaut who possesses the very rare gift, through words, of transferring the actual launch experience to the six senses and emotions of the earthbound masses.