Helen Sharman GB1MIR was the first UK astronaut. On May 18, 1991, she flew to the Mir Space Station on board Soyuz-TM12, aged 27.
Before flying, Helen spent 18 months in intensive flight training in Star City on the outskirts of Moscow. The Soyuz TM-12 mission, which included Soviet cosmonauts Anatoly Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev, lasted eight days, most of that time spent at the Mir space station. Helen’s tasks included medical and agricultural scientific experiments, photographing the British Isles, and participating in an amateur radio hookup with UK schoolchildren.
Watch Rocket Science – Helen Sharman Interview
Since her return, Helen has become one of the UK’s leading ambassadors for science. She was awarded the OBE in 1992 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the British Interplanetary Society. Helen has won numerous awards including the Medal “For Merit in Space Exploration” in 2012 from the Russian Federation government. Helen is currently Group Leader of Surface and Nanoanalysis at the National Physical Laboratory.