Helen Sharman, OBE, (born 30 May 1963), is a British chemist. She was the first Briton in space, visiting the Mir space station aboard Soyuz TM-12 in 1991.
Helen was born in Grenoside, Sheffield (Helen attended Grenoside Junior and Infant School), later moving to Greenhill. After studying at Jordanthorpe Comprehensive, She received a B.Sc. in chemistry at the University of Sheffield in 1984 and a Ph.D. from Birkbeck, University of London. She worked as an engineer for GEC in London and later as a chemist for Mars Incorporated. Sharman was selected to travel in space on 25 November 1989, beating 13,000 applicants, after responding to a radio advertisement asking for applicants to be the first British astronaut. The programme was known as Project Juno and was a cooperative arrangement between the Soviet Union and a group of British companies.
Before flying, Helen spent 18 months in intensive flight training in Star City.
The Soyuz TM-12 mission, which included Soviet cosmonauts Anatoly Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev, launched on 18 May 1991 and lasted eight days, most of that time spent at the Mir space station. Helen's tasks included medical and agricultural tests, photographing the British Isles, and participating in an amateur radio hookup with British schoolchildren. She landed aboard Soyuz TM-11 on 26 May 1991, along with Viktor Afanasyev and Musa Manarov.
Sharman was just 27 years and 11 months old when she went into space and is, as of 2007, the fifth youngest of the 455 individuals (90 percent men) who have flown in space. The second youngest, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, became the first woman in space in 1963 at age 26 years and 3 months.
She has not returned to space, although she was one of three British candidates in the 1992 European Space Agency astronaut selection process, and was on the shortlist of 25 applicants in 1998.
For her Project Juno accomplishments, Helen received a star on the Sheffield Walk of Fame.