Science & Tech

Spacewalking: Spacewalks

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 14:29 min

Chris outlines the physical and mental challenges of walking in space, describing the important roles played by support teams on Earth and inside the spacecraft during a spacewalk.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Spacewalks


MAN (ON RADIO): Hey, Chris, can you verify that you closed the flaps on all the bolts? CHRIS HADFIELD (ON RADIO): We're doing that now. MAN (ON RADIO): OK, next phase. CHRIS HADFIELD (ON RADIO): Got you. NARRATOR: This is a live television view of Chris Hadfield at work as he continues removing the super bolts, the launch restraint bolts, for the Canadarm2. MAN (ON RADIO): It should be the tightest of the three. CHRIS HADFIELD (ON RADIO): Yes. OK, Jeff, just work our way down towards my feet, please. JEFF WILLIAMS (ON RADIO): Coming down. CHRIS HADFIELD (ON RADIO): We are clear. In some of the science fiction movies, astronauts just seem to go outside for no reason at all, like to go for a walk. Or they're inside the spaceship, and 10 minutes later, there they are bouncing around outside. It is not like that. Spacewalks are dangerous. There's nothing between you and the little meteorites of the universe but this suit-- this plastic, this little layer of rubber. So we only go outside when we really think that it's worthwhile. And that's when our robots aren't dexterous enough. They don't have the judgment, or the feel, or the ability to intuitively understand the torque that they're applying to something. Or if we need to go outside and have a really good look at something where someone can say, yeah, that's damaged, or that's not damaged, or we can live with that. There are times where we need that ability of a human to interface with something, to delicately maneuver it, to work with the dexterity of their hands, to interpret something, to scheme and to plot. That's what we're really good at. And so we don't do it if we don't have to, but there are times-- there's nothing like a human being in a suit outside. And we've done that, of course, many times on the outside of the space station. Spacewalking is extremely physical. It's hard to make this suit do all the things you want it to do. But it's also very cerebral. Every single second, you need to be thinking about, how's my suit doing? Really, how's my little spaceship doing? My one person spaceship, how's the health of all those systems? Is it behaving itself? But then, what am I outside for? The space station is huge. What's the geometry of it? Where am I? What's my next task? When I'm using one of the tools, the pistol grip tool, you almost need a degree in pistol grip tools just to be able to operate that thing. And we have countless tools and things that we interface with on the outside. It is a focused marathon of an event to think about how you're doing, what your levels of safety are, how you're progressing through all the initial and critical tasks of the spacewalk, how you're interacting with the crew on the inside of the ship, working with your CAPCOM and the team down in mission control. You're kind of at the focus of this extremely large group of people trying to get something done. And you want to stay, not just physically strong, but...

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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