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Astronaut Helen Sharman

Helen Sharman - Citizen Spaceflight Astronaut

Post Series: Space Tourists

The first British civilian in space was Helen Sharman, a chemist who was selected from a pool of more than 13 000 applicants to be the first British astronaut in 1991.

The project was arranged by Project Juno, which was a joint venture between a consortium of British companies and the Russian space program.

However, when Project Juno failed to raise the required funds, the Russian President at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev intervened and ordered the project to proceed at the expense of the Russian Government in an effort to improve Russia’s relations with the West, an exercise that failed to deliver the expected results, since no Western Government chose to endorse or underwrite the project.

Helen Sharman's space flight vehicleAs result, the expensive scientific experiments Sharman was to have performed were replaced with more cost effective alternatives.

Sharman joined the crew of Soyuz TM-12 for the flight to Mir, and returned to earth with Soyuz TM-11.

Learn more about Helen Sharman's Spaceflight on BBC News