After her return to Earth the first UK astronaut Helen Sharman visited the Harrogate Ladies’ College club station G0HCA From left to right are Anna-Karin G7IRR, Helen Sharman GB1MIR, Richard Horton G3XWH and Katy G7NST – Image Credit G3XWH
She launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on May 18, 1991 arriving at the space station 2 days later. During her 6 day stay on Mir she used amateur radio to linkup with students at 9 schools in the UK.
Using the callsign, GB0JUNO, six students who held Full amateur licences established the initial contact with Helen from the Harrogate Ladies’ College and then passed transmission to the other eight schools involved in the experiment. Katy G7NST asked Helen the first question: “If you had no clock on board Mir, what would give you sense of time in space?”.
In addition to the school linkups Helen also made some random contacts on 2m FM, one of those fortunate to speak to her was Chris Lorek G4HCL.
The UK’s first astronaut Helen Sharman was asked about Amateur Radio on the BBC Radio 4 show Saturday Live broadcast December 12.
When asked by a listener, Brian, whether she still uses her amateur radio licence, she said:
“My amateur radio license was given to me very specially. I didn’t pass the tests in order to get it and I was only allowed to use it while I was in space, but I made friends all over the world. You can’t talk to a lot of people in Europe because there’s so many people trying to communicate with the space station but in parts of the world we’re it’s less populated, for instance in Australia, the astronauts do make friends that they’ve only ever met through the radio… it’s lovely.”
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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.
Helen Sharman GB1MIR became the United Kingdom’s first astronaut when she blasted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan at 1250 GMT on May 18, 1991 on her way to the Mir space station
She won her place in space when in 1989 she answered as advertisement she heard on the car radio that said “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary.”
Helen was selected from over 13,000 applicants to join the scientific space mission Project Juno.
She spent 8 days in space and operated Amateur Radio using her special call sign GB1MIR in the 2m band. While in space she carried out a range of experiments that included studying how weightlessness affects people, plants and the growth of crystals.