Helen Sharman: Facts About the First Briton in Space

Here are some facts about Helen Sharman.

  • Helen Sharman was the first British man or woman in space. She was also the first Briton to visit the Mir space station.
  • Sharman worked for Mars (the confectionary company) as a chemist, before going into space. She explained that she liked to eat chocolate and was interested in exploring different flavours.
  • She spent 7 days in the Mir space station and was one of the youngest ever people to go into space. Helen Sharman was 27 when she went aboard the space station.
  • To qualify, Sharman underwent a strict selection process, based on her scientific and educational background, as well as weight. She was one of almost 13,000 applicants for the chance to go into space.
  • Helen Sharman spent 18 months training in Star City, a Russian raining facility. Many Russian cosmonauts have trained there, and it has its own shops, restaurants, school, post office and railway station.
  • The astronaut programme was called Project Juno. It was a partnership between Russia and several British companies, and money was also raised by a lottery.
  • While on board the Mir, Sharman’s tasks included taking photographs of the UK, and agricultural tests. She also took part in an amateur radio transmission with children in a British school.
  • Since the first man went into space in 1961, over 530 people from almost 40 countries have flown in space. John Glenn was one of the oldest space travellers, at 77.
  • In 1991, Sharman tripped while running with the flame at the summer Universiade in Sheffield. The incident was shown on live television.
  • Helen Sharman has a star on the Sheffield Walk of Fame. She was awarded the OBE in 1993, and there are several school buildings named after her, both in the UK and in Europe.


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