Chapter 23 of 29 from Chris Hadfield

Training and Learning: Simulations


Chris teaches you the principles behind simulation setup, the mindset you need to learn as much as possible from simulations, and how astronauts prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Topics include: "Simulators Are Wrong • Simulate the Worst-Case Scenario • Visualize and Prepare for Failure • Emergency Training Across Agencies • Future Simulations"

Chris Hadfield

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.

Learn More



Class Info


Simulation is not just important. It's critical to success. Think about how you learned to ride a bicycle. Someone took the handlebars and showed you how they turn. They showed you how the pedals turn, or showed you how the wheels turn. You did sort of a background study of a bicycle. And then someone put you on a bicycle, but made sure that you couldn't fall. That was really a bicycle simulator. They were giving you a simulation of what it was going to be like to ride a bike, but without the consequence of failure. A safe set of circumstances to practice your technique. And you turned the handlebars the wrong way many times, and you started leaning. Or maybe they stuck training wheels. On it was a bicycle without pedals you could work on one skill at a time. But eventually, through incremental simulation you gained the skill. So for that very first time you could launch. And you could get on the bike and start pedaling, and you were away. And now you could do something that you couldn't do before. It was because of a training program and simulation. That you could do that thing. That you could ride that bike. And a spaceship is really just a super complicated bicycle. We go through exactly the same process. And you train on your own with a steadily more complex integrated environment in the simulator, until finally you've gotten to a level of comfort and understanding that now other crew members can get into the cockpit with you. And then you start with a perfect flight. You launch and everything behaves itself. And you learn what it's really going to look and sound like. And then the instructors can start injecting failures, and failing one system that you have to deal with. And then you're watching as your system is failing, then on the other side there's some other system failing, and someone has to realize that those two systems actually affect each other. And it becomes steadily more and more complex. And what your training team is hoping, the people that are trying to get you ready for spaceflight. They're hoping to show you every single thing they possibly can, somewhere along all of your simulation preparation. So that no matter what system fails, no matter what combinations of systems have any probability of failing, you are going to be able to handle it. And the place that you really perfect those skills is in the simulator. It is the crucible where you grind everything together and see whether you're ready for spaceflight or not. There's something I want you to remember. This is really important, especially in a career of an astronaut. And that is all simulators are wrong. Seems counterintuitive. But it's a simulator. It's not the real thing. And even if it's really, really close, even if it's Kerbal Space Program, or even if it's some sort of great asteroids game, it may have some similarity to what you're really going to do in space. But it's going to be slightly different. There are lots of classic examples of...

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.

Learn about the past, present, and future of space exploration with astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Download the workbook for lesson recaps, assignments, and photocopies of handwritten notes that Chris took to space.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Chris will also answer select student questions.


Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration