Helen Sharman is a pioneer, a role model for young people (of all ages!) and world-class inspirational speaker. She became the first British Astronaut when in May 1991, aged 27, she launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. She spent 8 days orbiting the Earth, living and working on the MIR Space Station (*in the modern Russian language, "Mir" can be translated as "peace" or "world"). Helen will celebrate her 30th Anniversary in May 2021.
She was selected from over 13,000 applicants but didn't think she stood a chance of being chosen when she applied, after hearing an advert on the radio on her way home after work.
Two people were chosen for the rigorous training but only one - Helen - went into Space.
But Helen was exactly the right person - calm, practical, friendly, professional and a team player. A superb speaker, Helen enthuses her audience about Space, STEM and the wonders of science. She describes the meticulous training and preparation, learning Russian, launch and landing, how weightlessness feels, her science experiments, the team spirit, and readjusting to life on Earth.
Helen Sharman was awarded the OBE in 1993. In the New Year Honours List of 2018, she was further awarded a rare and special honour, being made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for services to Science and Technology Educational Outreach. She received the CMG from Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle in February 2018.
In his Foreword to Helen's autobiography Seize The Moment, Arthur C Clarke writes:
"Her account of the hours before the launch and the actual sensations during ascent into orbit is so gripping that any reader will feel a vicarious involvement. This is exactly what it must be like".
After MIR, Helen became a science communicator and corporate speaker, winning numerous prizes for radio and TV programmes and for her inspirational talks on teamwork, STEM, science communication and motivation.
Helen Sharman received her BSc in Chemistry at Sheffield University. She worked in Research & Development for GEC before moving to Mars Confectionery as a Research Technologist working on chocolate and ice cream. Later, Helen managed a research group at the National Physical Laboratory in London. She now works part-time as the UK Outreach Ambassador for Imperial College London.