Science & Tech

Training and Learning: One-Pagers

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 10:03 min

Preparing for space travel means learning massive amounts of information. Learn how Chris used a series of one-page summaries to recall complex systems and concepts on the fly during his time in space.

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

Topics include: One-Pagers: Pistol Grip Tool


When you're on board a spaceship, the amount of information that you need to have ready to dig into is kind of overwhelming. Anything can be happening. You've got all these systems running. You're talking to the mission controls all around the world. You're trying to get the job done. And somehow you've got to keep it all straight in your head. And you might go from speaking to the prime minister of Russia in Russian to reprogramming a computer in a language that you don't know all that well to taking a really complicated picture to running a fluid physics experiment, all within a couple of hours. And how do you keep resetting your brain so that the critical information that you needed during that particular activity is fresh? How do you-- how do you get those things into your head at the time that you need them, especially for the things that have a high impact, you know, where an experiment might fail or it might be life or death or something safety. So a large part of successfully being an astronaut is learning how to manage information, how to learn things, how to keep things in your brain where you need them. For me, the best way to do that is initially just sort of learn the whole thing. Start with, you know, the world, OK, just the whole thing. Let's just start with all the information, all the colors of the rainbow, every bit of information. Let's try and get as much of the big picture as I can. But then let's start whittling it down to the more complicated stuff, pages and pages and pages of notes of the specifics of it all. What does the interface that I'm dealing with look like? Like when you're driving your car down the highway, you know there's an engine and there are wheels and there's a suspension system and brake lines. But what you're really dealing with is the steering wheel and the speedometer and what you see visually around you and the pedal that you're pushing on. That's your interface with all of those complicated systems. And it's the same for anything, really, in life. There's a big complex theory behind it, but how are you interacting with it, and how can you turn the wheel the right way or step on the pedal the right way so that you get done what you want to do? And you can treat every system on a spaceship that way. How do you boil it down to the part that is your interface? And the way I always do that is a one pager. I try and take this great holistic complexity of ideas, all of these multiple textbooks of real specific information, and then look at it through the eyes of the operator of the machine. You can say, I know all that theory is out there, but how am I interfacing with it? When I throw this switch, what does that switch mean to me? When I turn the wheel, what is actually behind that happening? Remind myself of the complexity through a one-page summary of the complex systems. And when you've trained as an astronaut for a decade, what you end up with is a book like this one. And this ...

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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