Helen Sharman CMG OBE is a British scientist and astronaut. She became the first British person in Space in May 1991 when she launched on a Soyuz spacecraft to spend 8 days orbiting the Earth, most of that time on the MIR Space Station.
Helen Sharman underwent a rigorous selection process which focused on psychological and medical assessments, technical understanding and practical skills and the ability to learn a foreign language. This was followed by 18 months of intensive flight training in Star City near Moscow, where learning to speak Russian and getting to know the cosmonauts’ families were part of her new way of life, along with preparing for weightlessness, learning how to cope inside a cramped space capsule, G-Forces, how to deal with a landing in the sea and training for all the possible things which might happen in a spacecraft, in orbit, at 17,500 miles an hour.
During the launch, she carried out her share of spacecraft operations. Once in space, Helen’s tasks included medical, agricultural and chemical experiments, materials’ testing, Earth observation work and operating an amateur radio link with British school students.
More recently, Helen managed a research group at the National Physical Laboratory in London.She now works full-time at the Department of Chemistry, Imperial College University of London.
Following her own space flight, Helen became a science communicator and corporate speaker. She won numerous prizes for radio and television programmes and for her inspirational talks worldwide on teamwork, STEM, communication and motivation. Helen often meets science teachers who were themselves inspired to study Science after hearing her speak – their lives changed after listening to her, and now they pass on their passion and expertise to the next generations of young scientists and engineers.
In her speeches, Helen takes her audience on a journey into Space, describing the lengthy and meticulous training and preparation, the launch and landing, how weightlessness feels, what it is like living and working in space, the teamwork and team spirit, and adjusting to life back on Earth afterwards.