Helen Sharman

  • Dr. Helen Sharman
    Credit: Anne-Katrin Purkiss
    Name: Helen Patricia Sharman
  • Born: 30th May 1963
  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: astronaut, chemist
  • Time in space: 7 days, 21 hours, 13 minutes

Helen graduated from university with a degree in chemistry, and went on to study for a PhD. She later worked as a chemist at Mars Incorporated, dealing with the flavourant properties of chocolate! Aged 26, she heard an advert on the radio asking for applicants to become the first British astronaut. Helen was selected for the mission live on ITV, alongside four other candidates, who would go on to train in Russia.

Helen was selected based on her scientific background, and her ability to learn a foreign language (Russian). She then spent 18 months in an intensive training program in Russia. Private British companies, and a lottery, raised money to pay for a seat on the Soyuz mission to the Mir space station. In 1991, Helen became the first ever woman to visit Mir.