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Science & Tech

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


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.

wonderful views and insights taught by an enthusiastic person.

Chris is a true hero to us young aviation aspirants and I want to thank him and Masterclass for sharing his incredible knowledge and experience.

I am a student of life who loves arts and sciences. This is the second course I have completed. With the things I learned, I was able to appreciate the ISS experience on my Oculus Quest headset in virtual reality. The last lessons in this course is my favorite and probably the most important lesson of all. It is one I will comeback and listen many times.

Super interesting and engaging. Chris is a great communicator!


Vamae C.

Hi! I am enjoying your class. Just curious what are the benefits of the space station being in Florida? I got a bit of insight from searching for answers for example here ( But also curious to get your perspective as well. Thanks!

Bernardo F.

The way Chris narrates all this shows such ecxitement! I can't even imagine the emotions he felt those days, can you imagine, going out of the planet? I mean... I get excited about when travelling outside by plane, but living something like that...

A fellow student

I never thought that I would be able to hold my breath for more than 90 seconds but Chris Hadfield made me hold it for 15 minutes. Great lesson!

Noah A.

alone in the cockpit? what about the co-pilots? sorry im drunk, 2nd time watching these, i love this episode!

Ricardo L.

Holy wow, I was IN TEARS by the end of this lesson. Chris described every single detail with such emotion and intimacy that I felt as if I was on board with the crew. I would've loved to become an astronaut and visit space, and this is the closest I'll ever get to experience it and I am speechless.

Kathy H.

I feel like I was on the flight with him. The description, his energy, his emotion ... what a fantastic class! This is my first comment because I didn't want to take the time before this class... I just wanted to keep listening to Chris. Have loved every single class!


I am picturing EVERYTHING he's talking about. Chris Hadfield describes everything so concise, so detailed and in layman terms that everyone can understand his journey. Such an intelligent and well rounded man. He was the reason I joined MasterClass. Loving every minute of his class. =)


Fantastic description and emotion used - i felt like I went on the ride with the crew . Thanks Chris absolute legend 👏👏👏

A fellow student

Amazing description of what it's like to launch! I felt like i was right there going through it. Incredible it takes less than 9 mins to get up there!

Janice G.

I swear my blood pressure shot up during this segment--I had to pause the video to calm down. What a storyteller he is!