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
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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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.

I love this so much. I am in 11 grade and i am really into this class.

I have already done a great career in medical science. I remember listening to the moon landing at a Drive-in with my girlfriend (now my wife for 48 years). Chris Hadley's doing the next right thing to get to the goal works.

I really loved this class. Incredible and excelent

What a fabulous class! Chris Hadfield's conversational style is awesome! He makes incredibly complex topics seem relatable. This class gives you a behind the scenes peek at things most of us will never experience (but most likely have been very curious about). Yet you kind of get to experience those things through his narrative.


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.

Pedro C.

WOW!!! What a great experience, surfing the aurora!!! Chris shares his experiences in such a natural and passionate way, that made me feel I was there. This lesson is so inspiring!!! This inspiration made me think about all the possible activities to be performed at space. I would like to know the experiences on planning spacewalks, possible contingencies and emergencies. rescue drills and tools, health monitoring and remote interventions, etc.

Ross P.

Whoa..that was Africa going by...that literally almost brought me to tears thinking the sheer power of being “apart” of the view as he explains this. I am so appreciative of getting these masterclasses.

stasia P.

I was hanging on every single word. I took this thought away from this lecture…in the daily tasks of my job and life, don't forget to stop and look around for a second, I just might miss something that I never even knew I wanted to experience or thought was possible. I was struck by his thought that he probably had past it a few times but because of his focus on the task he was not able to experience the Aurora. I joined Masterclass a few weeks ago for the photography classes, but have found myself learning all kinds of things from the worlds best and brightest. Thank you Commander Hadfield.

Mark L.

Surfing the Aurora, Wow, that must be the coolest thing anyone can experience


The amazing thing about Chris is his capability to see Art in such technical and scientific experience....Congraulations!!!!

Justin S.

I've seen the Aurora Borealis deep in the night while flying over the Yukon and Northwest Territory at 0300. I can't imagine what it must have been to fly in them, as compared to flying under them.

Robert A.

How do you align US and Russian spacewalk procedures / technology? Believe you've mentioned you could be talking to US, or Russian mission control with spacewalk specialist? Are they using the same spacesuits? How do you plan for further enhancements in space tech: seems increadibly complex to orchestrate all stakeholders in the current setup (US, Russians, EU, Canada, Japan...). What about private operators, eg SpaceX - do they have to certify for standards already in use? BTW, are they using existing mission controls around the globe, or having their own?

Bernard N.

Spacewalks, I saw this 30 sec. video with aurora, amazing! Deep space, Earth with oceans and continents, night lights and fluorescent green Aurora.