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.

I absolutely loved this Masterclass. I am just finishing highschool, going into university, and one day, I hope to become an astronaut. This class showed me the challenges my dream presents me with and taught me how to overcome them. Thank you!

An excellent introduction for new beginners to the study of space exploration and those who have been following closely for years! Thankyou!

Very educational, lead by awesome instructor.

Such an amazing depth of knowledge, Chris taught it like a storyteller. I didn't want it to end. He was like a father figure sharing his life with his kids. I've been significantly impacted by this course in the sense of vision, humility, decision-making and leadership. I came for the space exploration. I stayed for Chris Hadfield. Thank you, Masterclass.


William N.

I concur with Ken Cook. His series of lessons so far have been extremely intriguing to hear! It's been a massive pleasure to be graced by Chris Hadfield teachings and knowledge of Space Exploration in both the facts, and the way he describes the emotions and sensations. It's quite the experience, and the journey! The lesson PDFs encompass the lesson well, and I feel this is one of the few masterpieces I have been blessed to hear coming from an astronaut, or even a scientist at that!


I've heard astronauts speak before but never with the detail of how it felt. Chris' description of astronaut training was great, including how he felt as a newbie sitting next to experienced astronauts in the NASA offices.

Ken C.

Very enjoyable. I have heard several astronauts speak and it is always fascinating. I would love to explore space. Chis is an excellent presenter and I would love to have a more technical class on each topic. The links in the PDF are very good, I just ordered a text on Astrodynamics to study the equations of orbital motion.

Lisa Y.

Everything! Chris Hadfield is such a calm and incredible man. This has been a delightful lesson!

Louise B.

I'm exhausted from listening to this description of going into space. I've learnt two things from this lecture - 1) I never want to go into space on a rocket ship 2)I'm so very glad there are people around like Chris that do.

A fellow student

My children get very hyper when they are excited. We watched this Masterclass together and now I constantly tell them: "Did you see how calm while unbelievably excited Chris Hadfield stays? That's the way to be if you want to accomplish things - that's the way you stay focused."

prescott M.

after all the masterclass commercials for years now, this was the one that got me! ha! Thanks Chris. (-;

Alwin T.

What a description of what it's like to launch! Absolutely poetic. Amazing.


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