25th anniversary of first Brit in space

By Nikhil Vekaria

Helen Sharman has been described as ‘inspirational’ by her former university on the 25th anniversary of  her becoming the first Brit in space.

Helen was born in Sheffield in 1952 and later graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1984 with a BSc in Chemistry.

She then became a research and development technologist for GEC, before later working for confectionary giant Mars.

Then, in November 1989, she was selected from a pool of thousands to be the first British astronaut.

She then trained for 18 months before becoming the first Briton to go into space, 25 years ago today- on May 18 1991.

In the voyage, Helen also became the first Briton to visit the Mir Space Station.

The project that took Helen to space, Project Juno, was a joint effort between British firms and the Soviet space programme.

It was almost cancelled at the last minute after funding failed to be secured, but then Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev funded the project to ensure it went ahead.

Now, on the 25th anniversary of Sharman heading into space, Twitter users are commemorating the event by using #Sharman25 in their tweets.

The University of Sheffield Chemistry Department, who Sharman is an alumnus of, said that they were proud of Helen and her achievements.

A spokeswoman told ShefNews: “We are so very proud of Helen’s achievements and she continues to be such a wonderful role model for Chemistry students in Sheffield and all over the country.

“Helen showed us the sky really is the limit!”

Stemettes, an organisation that works to encourage more girls and women into science, technology, engineering and maths also said they were proud of Sharman’s achievements.

They said: “We are so proud of Helen’s achievements given our work encouraging girls into STEM.

“She’s inspiring and sadly underrated. It’s great to commemorate her space visit and inspire the next generation of women into the field.

“Here’s to the Helen Sharmans of the future.”

The University of Sheffield also marked the anniversary on their news Twitter feed, with a tweet reminding followers that Helen had attended the university.

Euan Antona

Second year Journalism Student at the University of Sheffield. @EuanAntona

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