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Helen Sharman
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Astronaut
    (May 30, 1963- )
    Born in Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
    Research chemist for candy manufacturer Mars, Inc.
    Spent eight days on the Russian Mir space station (May 18-26, 1991)
    First Briton in space
    First woman on Mir
    Wrote the memoir ‘Seize the Moment’ (1993) and the children’s book ‘The Space Place’ (1997)
    Named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1993)
    When the British tabloids found out where she worked, there were endless ‘Girl from Mars’ headlines.
    Due to funding problems, several scientific experiments she was supposed to have conducted were either dropped or scaled back.
    When she was chosen to light the flame for the 1991 World Student Games in Sheffield, she tripped while jogging on the stadium track, scattering the embers from the torch. (She completed the run and ‘lit’ the flame despite a lack of fire in the torch.)
    She dropped out of the public eye after 2000, refusing to give interviews for a decade.
    The British Space Agency apparently wrote her our of history, describing Major Tim Peake (who traveled to the International Space Station in December, 2013) as Britain’s ‘first official astronaut.’
    Her speculation on why she was chosen: ‘I was physically fit, good in a team, and not too excitable, which was important. You can’t have people losing it in space.’
    She said about withdrawing from the limelight, ‘I wanted my privacy back. I’m a scientist, but I found myself in interviews being asked where I bought my clothes. Irrelevant’
    She held no grudge against Peake: before his flight she gave him a copy of Yuri Gagarin’s ‘Road to the Stars’ and the advice to look out the windows as much as possible.

Credit: C. Fishel


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