Key Note Speaker: Dr Helen Sharman OBE – Britains First Astronaut

Helen Sharman

Expanding Horizons

What a very apt title for the talk by Dr Helen Sherman OBE, together with her urging us to ‘seize the moment’, although it’s not likely we will end up as an astronaut.

Having heard an advert on the radio for ‘Astronaut wanted – no experience required’ she told us about her journey from working at Mars Confectionary, being on the team producing the mars bar ice cream, to Star City near Moscow for training, and finally into space.

After reporting the best bit was the weightless training, she went on to describe approaching the day of the launch with no fear, and having a party with the two astronauts already there when she arrived.

The serious part of her mission included experiments with biology and agriculture, leading to technical improvements for drugs using protein crystals grown in space and a better understanding of health issues.

There is still, however, much to learn, including why we cannot grow fruit and vegetables in space!

Following her return Helen spoke of using her experiences to talk about space, science and engineering, and encouraging everyone to look past the limits set by others, to brave new opportunities, to Engineer a bright future for all.

Louise Parry

About Dr Helen Sherman OBE

Dr Helen Sharman OBE, a British chemist who was working for Mars (researching chocolate flavours!) when she responded to a radio advertisement that captured her attention ‘Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary’, asking for applicants to be the first British astronaut.  She was subsequently selected to travel into space ahead of nearly 13,000 other applicants.  Helen was also the first woman to visit the Mir space station in 1991.