Helen was only 26 year old at the time when she first heard an advert on the radio calling for astronaut candidates. She already had a Chemistry degree and five years spent in the industry, first as an engineer in London and then as chemist at Mars confectionery (unsurprisingly, the “Mars” connection later became a source of easy puns for journalists).
The mission on the space station Mir was part of Project Juno, a joint agreement between the Soviet Union and Britain. She applied, undaunted by the fact that were other 13,000 applicants for the job. Her colleagues and family found the idea quite amusing, but for her, this was no laughing matter. She passed all physical and psychological tests, she proved she could be a good team-player, she learned Russian and how to conduct experiments in space.
During the eight days spent on Mir she performed a series of scientific experiments, such as testing the effects of weightlessness on the growth of potato roots or wheat seeds, growing protein crystals in space, some physiological tests on her own body and observed the Earth.
An image of Helen Sharman in 1991 from the BBC news website. Helen answered an advert 'Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary'.
She also did radio experiments with schools so pupils could track the orbit of the space station.
Viewing the Earth from space is a spectacular sight, but what really gives it meaning is the human connection with those back home and among those in space. She later said in an interview: