Britain’s first astronaut in space has “almost been forgotten”, says astrophysics professor

A theoretical astrophysics professor has said that the first Briton in space has “often been forgotten”.

Tuesday saw the 30th anniversary of Helen Sharman’s eight day journey to space in which she conducted medical and agricultural research.

The plaque commemorated to Helen Sharman in Sheffield City Centre

However, University of Sheffield Professor Simon Goodwin, 50, feels people are more likely to remember the second Briton in space, Tim Peake, due to his access to social media and video links.

Professor Goodwin said: “At the time there was a lot of coverage in the press and it made a big impact at the time. 

“Then it sort of drifted away, in particular with Tim Peake there seemed to be a lot more fuss about him including people saying he was the first British astronaut and forgetting Helen Sharman.”

Mrs Sharman, who was born in Sheffield and graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1984 with a degree in chemistry, was the successful applicant after responding to a radio advertisement. She saw off competition from more than 13,000 applicants.

The former Mars confectionary engineer trained for 18 months in Russia before launching alongside Soviet cosmonauts commander Anatoly Artsebarsky and flight engineer Sergey Krikalyov

Professor Goodwin feels that Helen Sharman does not get the recognition she deserves due to the climate of the time, specifically in Sheffield. 

He said: “Sheffield was a bit grim in the late 80s and places like Sheffield didn’t have a civic pride, whereas now Sheffield is a very different place with a very different outlook.

“Largely it is bad timing and also at a time when a lot of other things were happening. I think it is the news cycle and people’s interest in something.”

The spacesuit used by Helen Sharman

More information about Helen Sharman’s work can be found on her website.

Written by Iwan James

I'm a second year journalism student originally from South Wales. I am currently Head of Sport for Forge TV and have written as a freelancer for multiple sports websites as well as having bylines published in local and regional papers.

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Written by Iwan James

I'm a second year journalism student originally from South Wales. I am currently Head of Sport for Forge TV and have written as a freelancer for multiple sports websites as well as having bylines published in local and regional papers.
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