Helen Patricia Sharman is a chemist who became the first British cosmonaut and the first woman to visit the Mir space station in May 1991.
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After responding to a radio advertisement asking for applicants to be the first British space explorer, Helen Sharman was selected for the mission live on ITV, on 25 November 1989, ahead of nearly 13,000 other applicants.
“Self-belief and a can-do attitude changed my life,” she said. “I ticked all the boxes, but thought they wouldn’t choose me so I wouldn’t bother [applying]. By the time I got home I’d realized that if I didn’t actually apply, then they couldn’t choose me.”
Today, from her brief spell in space more than 28 years ago, the trip’s memory is as strong as ever.
“There’s no greater beauty than looking at the Earth from up high,” she said.
“I’ll never forget the first time I saw it.”
Moreover, Sharman remains confident that we are not alone on the topic of extraterrestrial life.
“Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it,” she told Observer Magazine. “There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of forms of life.”
“Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not.”
“It’s possible they’re right here right now and we simply can’t see them.”