I first learned about Chris Hadfield when his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity performed while floating onboard the International Space Station went viral on the Internet.
Then I saw his fascinating TED Talk titled What I Learned from Going Blind in Space.
And then, an intriguing ad for his MasterClass about space exploration started to pop out when I was watching videos on YouTube.
I found the ad inspiring. So much, in fact, that for perhaps the first time in my life I contemplated purchasing an online course. As such, when I found out that MasterClass offered a free 7-day trial, it was a no-brainer. I signed up and binge-watched all of the lessons in a week.
Unfortunately, the free trial has been discontinued since then – I assume because people would just watch most if not all of the course they were interested in within that time frame. As you’ll find out further in this article, I would not have regretted spending the money on this course even if I actually paid for it, though.
So, let’s jump into the actual review. What is MasterClass, who is Chris Hadfield, what can you learn in the Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration course, and is it worth paying for and taking?
What is MasterClass?
In their own words, MasterClass provides “online classes taught by the world’s greatest minds.” And, that really is the case. While the courses they offer span a very wide range of topics – cooking, writing, economics, music, acting, and space exploration, among others – they have one thing in common. They are all taught by people you are likely to have heard about if you are at least remotely interested in the topic of the course.
Just to give you an idea of who MasterClass was able to partner with and get to record a course for them, below is a selection of some of the 45+ courses you can find on the site:
- Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing
- Daniel Negreanu Teaches Poker
- Garry Kasparov Teaches Chess
- Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking
- Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
- Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design
- Samuel L. Jackson Teaches Acting
- Serena Williams Teaches Tennis
As you can see above, they really offer something for everyone, and their courses really are taught by some of the most successful people in the respective field.
When it comes to the courses themselves, the main part of each course are video lessons. Those are not only very informative, but the production quality is excellent as well. Aside from that, each lesson also comes with PDF worksheets that can be submitted to the course’s student community (and some instances even to the instructors themselves) for feedback.
Finally, in terms of the plans they offer, you can either get access to a single course for 90 dollars, or get an all-access pass for 180 dollars a year. As such, if you are interested in two or more courses, you are better off getting the all-access pass and taking them in one year rather than paying for each of them separately.
Who is Chris Hadfield?
I intentionally didn’t list the Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration course in the list of sample MasterClass courses above, simply because this one is the main topic of this article. So, let’s start taking a closer look at the course by first looking at who Chris Hadfield is.
Chris Hadfield is a retired Canadian astronaut who rose to popularity after documenting his life onboard the International Space Station on social media. He started as a pilot for the Canadian Armed Forces before becoming one of the four out of 5,330 applicants accepted into the Canadian astronaut program in 1992.
Photo credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz
Just three years later, he flew into the space for the first time, onboard Space Shuttle mission STS-74 to Mir, the now-retired Russian space station.
His second flight to space took place in 2001, once again onboard the Space Shuttle. During that mission, STS-100, he and the other crew members installed Canadarm2 (a robotic arm) on the International Space Station. It was during that mission that Chris became the first Canadian to spacewalk and when he lost his vision for a while – the topic of his fascinating TED Talk.
On December 19, 2012, Chris Hadfield launched into the space for the third and the last time. By then, the Space Shuttle had been retired, and so the trip was made onboard the Russian Soyuz. This trip took him, once again, to the International Space Station – this time to become the first ever Canadian commander of the ISS. As mentioned above, it was during this time that Chris gained popularity – among other thanks to the Space Oddity video.
Photo credit: NASA/Scott E. Parazynski
He returned back to Earth in May 2013, and shortly after that, he retired. He has been in the public eye since then, both through his social media channels, as well as through traditional media.
You can learn more about Chris Hadfield on the website of the Canadian Space Agency. Also make sure to check his Twitter feed where he’s quite active, and his nicely done website.
What can you learn in the Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration MasterClass?
The space exploration MasterClass consists of 29 lessons (each being a video about 10 to 20 minutes long) spanning about a dozen different topics ranging from astronaut training through rocket science and orbital mechanics all the way to leadership and Mars colonization.
For details about what each of the videos contains, make sure to check the MasterClass’ website. Below is the list of the lessons included in the course:
- Astronaut Training
- Rockets: How Rockets Work
- Rockets: What It Feels Like to Launch
- Rockets: Atmospheric Drag
- Rockets: Orbital Mechanics
- Rockets: Fuels and Propulsion
- Rockets: The Price of Exploration
- Spaceships: Capsule Design
- Spaceships: Shuttles and Beyond
- Spaceships: Navigation Systems and Human Variables
- Spaceships: Navigating to the International Space Station
- The ISS: Conception, Design, and Construction
- The ISS: Life Support Systems
- The ISS: Experiments
- Leadership: Commanding the ISS
- Training and Learning: One-Pagers
- Comms: Mission Control Evolution and Operations
- Spacewalking: Spacesuits
- Spacewalking: Spacewalks
- Spacewalking: Training
- Spacewalking: Space and Perspective
- Training and Learning: Simulations
- Mars: How to Get to Mars
- Mars: Living on Another Planet
- Mars: In-Situ Resource Utilization
- Mars: Exploring Mars, Geology, and Astrobiology
- Conclusion: The Future of Exploration
- Bonus Chapter: Chris’s Journey
While there was something valuable to learn in every single one of the lessons, some of my favorite ones included:
- Rockets: What It Feels Like to Launch – Part of this lesson where Chris’ describes the whole process of getting into space in great detail is also featured in the ad at the beginning of this article.
- Rockets: Orbital Mechanics – In this lesson, Chris dives into and explains some of the counter-intuitive concepts about orbital mechanics. Such as the fact that when you’re in orbit, you have to “speed-up to slow-down.”
- Spaceships: Navigating to the International Space Station – Learning about how the process of docking a spaceship to the International Space Station works makes parallel parking seem very easy.
- Spacewalking: Spacesuits & Spacewalks – I really liked these two. Simply because, who wouldn’t love to try spacewalking?
- Training and Learning: Simulations – There’s virtually no room for error once you are in space which makes simulations extremely important. However, no matter what you do, doing simulations – whether actual ones or just in your mind – will help you get prepared for whatever it is that you are about to do.
Once again, while the above five are some of the lessons that I enjoyed the most, I loved every single one of the lessons in the Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration MasterClass.
Summary: Is Chris Hadfield’s MasterClass worth taking?
Now that you know who Chris Hadfield is and what the MasterClass is about, let’s take a look at the final question: is it worth paying for and taking? And, my question to that is an absolute yes.
Of course it won’t turn you into an astronaut.
Nor will it make you a rocket scientist.
But, it will give you a great introduction into the world of space exploration that will serve as a good starting point in learning about the field further. And, even if you decide that space exploration is not something you want to learn more about, you will still learn plenty of lessons applicable to every aspect of life by going through the course.
To learn more about and buy the course, visit the Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration MasterClass website.
And, if you are wondering whether most of the information you learn through the course can be found online for free, the answer is yes. However, in this case, I believe the fact that it’s taught by Chris – a real astronaut and a very engaging lecturer – and the high production quality are well worth the price tag.