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Science & Tech

Spacewalking: Space and Perspective

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 16:15 min

What can we learn from looking down at Earth from above? Chris explains what spaceflight means for our human perspective and how we can use what we learn in space to preserve our species and planet.

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.


MAN: On land at Houston, y'all have a great first full day on orbit. The planning folks are going to hand it over to the rendezvous pros who will start getting you ready for tomorrow. They'll be the Orbit One team, and the next voice you hear will be Chris Hadfield's. Some of you taking this course are going to fly in space. And I think you'll find when you get there, when the engines shut off, whether you mean to or not, the first thing you're going to do is laugh. It's hilarious, it's so funny, because suddenly you're weightless. It's just-- it's like if you were sitting there right now, and imagine that you now just started floating up off your chair uncontrollably, and your hair floated up and your necklace floated up, and all the things sitting around you on the table were suddenly floating on by, weightless. It's just-- it's ridiculous. Your entire life, you've counted on gravity to control everything around you, and the moment the engine's shut off, you're suddenly irreversibly weightless. And also, you've just done a very dangerous thing, and you're now there, it's for real. And so, there's this sort of a rush of emotional relief as well, and everybody in the crew, we all just sort of laugh, like, wow, that happened, we're here, we worked hard, but we're here. And then you think, what do I want to do? And you've got all these technical things to do on the ship. You've got to check for pressure leaks. You've got to stow your helmet. You need to-- you know, there's all these things that are on your checklist that you have to do next. But what you really want to do, and I'm sure what you'll want to do if you ever get yourself in that position, is unstrap yourself from your seat and try and control your-- you're like Bambi on ice, you're this new kind of clumsy being, learning the very first steps in weightlessness-- but to get yourself to a window, to see where you just came from, to see the world in a way that you've never seen it before. It's kind of the biggest point of being there, is the perspective that it gives on ourselves, and the most in-your-face, slapping kind of chance to do that is from this new, incredibly high vantage point, to float to the window and see what the world actually looks like. When you're on a spaceship you'll find that if you look closely at the glass of the windows of the spaceship, it's got nose prints all over it because people are grabbing onto the handrail, but you just can't control yourself very well at first. You'll boink, and your nose bounces off the glass and you need to clean a little bit of oil and nose prints off the glass to be able to see beautifully. But to me, that's just a reminder of where you are, how brand new this view is of the world and how incredible it is. You see everything with nobody filtering it for you. From the altitude of a spaceship, you can see halfway across a continent. From overhead Florida, you can see all the way up to Chicago, essentially. The Great Lake...

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.

The entire Masterclass was incredible!! I loved every bit of it and learned immensely. I had read Cmdr. Hadfield's book "An astronaut's guide to life on Earth", and got inspired in so many ways. Now with this class it was as illuminating in terms of knowledge as it was in terms of perspective and inspiration.

Think I’m about halfway through and I’m loving it. Chris makes it easy for an ordinary human like me to understand quite complex things. Fascinating!

This has been by far, the most extraordinary and unique Masterclass I´ve enjoyed, top 1 along Chris Voss. Chris Hadfiel is an extraordinary teacher and communicator, capable of sharing his experiences on space in such a vivid way, and also, he is a great master about life, crating future and bending reality. Bravissimo!

Excellent and really informative. Chris is such a nice and gentle teacher too



If you think about it, our Earth is the biggest and oldest spaceship ever!

Bernardo F.

So poetic, haha. It could be taken as an irony that we must learn about the Earth by leaving it. I believe all this have taught us that we're not isolated, nor we are the center of the universe... paraphrasing Chris, if our ship sinks, the universe will continue, we don't have any influence out there, that's why we must protect the only ship we have right now. Maybe in the future we can have more, but that doesn't mean that Earth is disposable.


I'm 1:30 into this lesson where Chris just talked about how they are travelling around the globe in 90 minutes and it got me thinking about the human concept of time. When a person is on the surface of the earth we have a specific perspective on the concept of time and space. We live a lifespan up to a max of 100-120 years...made up of 365 days/year, 24 hours/day, 60 minutes/hour, 60 seconds per minute etc. etc. On the surface of the earth it would take years to walk around the earth which is a substantial proportion of a human's life span, also keeping in mind that the life span of a human is in large part dictated by the environmental conditions imposed on him due to being located on the surface of the earth (ie. by gravity for example). Of course humans can use land vehicles to speed up that circumnavigation mechanically. And then as we distance ourselves from the surface of the earth even further (ie. through the use of airplanes) the time to circumnavigate reduces even more because many more of the limitations imposed by the earth are removed (ie. one of the many limitations removed are caused by friction due to greater levels of gravity, and having to either physically walk or drive across and over the earth's surface). However the airplane, while not having to interact with the surface of the earth must still deal with limitations caused by gravity, but to a lessor extent, and still must deal with friction caused by the gases contained within the atmosphere. However travel around the globe is orders of magnitude quicker than walking on the surface. And then as we get further away into the orbit of the space station, an enormous task like walking around the world which normally takes a human years to do is reduced now to 90 minutes time which is but a fraction of a human being's life span (at least the 100 year life span of a human living on earth). What conditions need to be removed so that a human can safely circumnavigate the globe in a trivial, neglible amount of time then? So that a human doing this task can view the world from afar and perceive it as nothing but a grain of sand like we do those specks on the beach found between our toes? And what effect does the space environment have on the human life span? Would it increase positively and proportionately to that recorded time it takes us to travel in space or decrease? Even though it takes Chris only 90 minutes to go around the world rather than years to walk it, would his proportional life span decrease, stay the same or increase by living his life on the space station (in other he actually saving himself "time" as we understand it? Time is not just a property that we can record based on specific parameters, but our perception of time is grounded in a baseline that we all compare it to.

William D.

This lesson has nothing to do with Space Exploration. If I wanted Chris's opinions on environmental issues I'd ask for them.

Alexia Mariel

"To see the world in one glance." Chris Hadfield is such a captivating storyteller and he makes me wanna see the world from space!

Lee-Anne M.

Your imaginative descriptions, the amazing way you share, this is teaching at its finest!!! Surfing the Aurora, imagining stepping out of the airlock into space when you were in the pool, the depth of your sharing! My goodness, you GAVE me space walking, surfing in space, life in space, in every lesson. Thank you! Your perspective on looking at the world from space. My goodness. What a gift you are.

Naeema F.

I loved all the lessons by Chris! Amazing information and great perspective. Thanks for sharing!

Maddie W.

Chris Hadfield is such a thoughtful and genuine person; it truly is inspiring to see through his perspective and understand the meaning behind his experiences. I love the idea of seeing ourselves as crew members instead of passengers. It really highlights the importance of each and every person in doing their part. We all contribute toward the health of our spaceship, so we have to decide for ourselves what that contribution is going to be. We all have the potential to make change, and going out there and understanding our own place in the universe helps ensure that we aren't defined by our own limited decision-making. "It’s not an insolvable problem; we just have to take responsibility for our own spaceship. We can’t just wait for somebody else to do it." Thank you, Chris, for such a beautiful, eloquent, and moving reminder

Magnus G.

Very interesting, I am not going to be a astronaut but it´s so inspiring to see what we can accomplice throw space exploration.

Daniela M.

It was amazing for me to satisfy my curiosity about life in space. Thank you for these lessons! I really see through your eyes the space.