Dr. Helen Sharman
|Project Juno astronaut|
30 May 1963 |
|University of Sheffield, BSc 1984
Birkbeck, University of London, Ph.D.
Time in space
|7d 21h 13m|
|Missions||Soyuz TM-12, Soyuz TM-11|
The view from space is really very special. From the window, you can look back at the Earth and see the stars around you. I just hope that more people from Britain get the chance to experience it.
Because we were orbiting the earth faster than earth spins on its axis, we went around the earth 16 times a day, an earth day, which meant 16 periods of lightness and 16 periods of darkness in 24 hours. Every so often you'd look towards the earth, and often you could see lightness and darkness together, and dawn and sunset were spectacular.
Is a one-way trip to Mars ever really seriously going to happen? Surely that's morally reprehensible. However old people are, however much they say they want to go on a one-way mission, people should be thinking about the possibility of returning.
Just because I'm a woman does not mean I have to deal with everything to do with food.
People are fascinated by space flight. It makes them interested in science, gets them asking questions and motivates them.
I hope there will be continued U.K. investment in human spaceflight to enable Britain to benefit from space travel in the longer term and that many more Britons – women and men – will travel into space.
You can do more science on the ground than you can in space for the same amount of money. But there is some science you can not do on the ground.
I still dream about being on the space station with the feeling of being weightless. The weightlessness is the most amazing, relaxing and natural feeling.
I don't classify myself as the first space tourist because I wasn't as though I paid and had a holiday out of it – although I had a fab time.
The government will see that human spaceflight is useful – for science and the economy – and inspirational.
The advice I was given was just to make sure you look out of the window occasionally. It's something no astronaut ever gets tired of doing.
I'd love to go back to space, I don't know any astronaut who doesn't want to.
I operated a periscopic TV camera so the commander, Anatoly Artsebarsky, could establish where we were heading. It is real teamwork on Soyuz.
From space, the earth appears predominantly blue; the clouds are brilliant white. Surprisingly, you don't see much green, although Ireland looks green, and so do Scandinavia and New Zealand. The deserts are brick red and really stand out.
While we've taken seeds into space, and astronauts on the International Space Station have eaten lettuce they've grown, we haven't produced fruit in space, so we can't pollinate something.
On Mir, the lights kept going out because it had developed so many electrical problems.
Politicians and the government have become too interested in short-term gains. Of course, if you look at the direct financial returns in the short term, human space flight is expensive. But they need to look longer term.
I lived at Star City for more than a year ahead of my trip to Mir on May 18, 1991 in Soyuz TM-12. My life at Star City was so remote that learning Russian became my greatest priority.
I get standing ovations at meetings when I say Britain should be involved in human spaceflight. Unfortunately, that goal has been blocked by a handful of people in high office.
There is good science you can do in space. There is stuff there you cannot do on Earth and we can gain understanding from it.
You don't go into space just for the science. Economically, it is not worth it. I think the reason we should be in space is for the exploration; it's the human endeavour.
We should be pushing our boundaries. After all, we Britons are explorers and adventurers.
During launch, the outside of the rocket is covered in a protective fairing, so we couldn't see outside, but as soon as that was jettisoned, my first view of the earth was over the Pacific Ocean, which was this wonderful deep blue, with clouds just over the top, and sunlight streaming in through the window.
As the craft re-entered earth's atmosphere, it was coming in so fast, it heated up the surrounding atoms and molecules, and they became positively and negatively charged, and highly reactive, and began luminescing all around us.
When the history books are written in a thousand years, when space travel would have become routine, the moment that humans first left Earth will be of huge importance. Star City is a central part of this story and it deserves more recognition.