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Science & Technology

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.

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.
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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...

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.

Exceptional quality, real experience and very well produced.

Fantastic course, very informative and entertaining. I could listen to Chris tell stories all day long.

Wow! A truly inspiring class, filled with practical advice on how to achieve your dreams, and fascinating explanations on what it means to be an astronaut. Absolutely worth the time it took.

Excellent Chris ! Thank you for sharing your passion...


Bernardo F.

What a priviledge to live what Chris mentions, simply amazing and unimaginable! I love how this class is mixing both theory and story; because... we're not learning to be astronauts! Haha, and take it in the good sense, of course it's really interesting to know all the details, but I don't think there are people taking this course and planning to go to space in the next years (I may be wrong). If Chris focuses that much in his livings it's just because it's not the stuff we learn in programs, books, series; it's like the behind the scenes.

Shelly F.

Can the Aurora be seen from space or was this experience on or close to the Earth?

William D.

"Sea Stories" in lectures have a purpose to either reinforce a point or to entertain the class. Both are important. These were only to entertain. I agree that he "needed" the Canadian flag on his suit. It says something for the lack of common sense that he had to go through the story to get it right. It shouldn't have been this hard.


Absolutely stunning footage. His story telling of his time in space makes you feel like you are right by his side during his moments up there. His love and his perspective of space brings you to a whole new appreciation and experience of astronauts and the universe. Truly inspiring.

A fellow student

Exceptionally stunning video footage -- as their orbit carries them through the Southern Aurora. Wow! And thank you for sharing this amazing spectacle with us!

Maddie W.

Truly amazing the kind of preparation and discipline that is required for spacewalking. Chris Hadfield has such a profoundly touching way of articulating the importance, responsibility, and grandeur of being in space. It really was a pleasure just to listen to him; I feel as though I understand a bit of the wonder that Chris obviously holds for space exploration. It must be such an honor to be able to represent your country in that way, to be a part of building a structure which, to this day, is still crucial to the operations and discoveries made on board the ISS. I love all the stories that Chris shares with us, like how he was 'surfing' on the aurora and really got to experience those aspects of our universe that we all strive so hard to understand. To me, it seems like a profound reminder that sometimes the most beautiful things can only be seen when you take a moment to stop and truly observe what is around you. (Also, I was curious about the Canadian 5 dollar bill comment in the workbook so I googled it and found this cute photo!)

Steve H.

What an opportunity! It is impressive that Chris new where he would be in relation to the Earth during his EVA such that he could make the adjustments necessary to see Australia. I can't imagine the other-worldly feel of traveling through the Aurora Australis.


I think this kind of insight is amazing. Sometimes his descriptions are poetry, sometimes highly technical. A real pleasure to listen!

Laurie O.

I have a question about air locks during EVAs. After an astronaut goes outside the outer air lock, does she close the air lock door? Or does it stay open to facilitate the tether? Thanks.

Pedro C.

Bearing in mind that spacesuits are like small spaceships, I am wandering about the challenges of returning to the Earth surface on a spacesuit. Including heat protection, a parachute, and the backpack rocket, it should be possible to safely return to Earth in case of emergencies.