Helen’s advice on outer space

Helen Sharman'Astronaut
Helen Sharman'Astronaut
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Space sickness, coping with weightlessness and keeping tabs on the planet below - Sheffield lass Helen Sharman reckons it’s all in a day’s work.

There are very few qualified to give career advice to British astronaut Major Tim Peake, who is set to follow in Helen’s footsteps to become the second Brit in space, but the Grenoside girl is one of them.

Sheffield-born Helen Sharman, the first Brit in space

Sheffield-born Helen Sharman, the first Brit in space

The 49-year-old shared tips on space exploration with The Star following the announcement that Maj Peake will be blasted into the cosmos for a five-month stay on the International Space Station at the end of 2015.

Helen, who has just begun a role as a technical manager at Kingston University, said: “In the first couple of days your body is adapting to being weightless and some people do have space sickness. It’s just like motion sickness in a car. Fortunately I never had it but the feeling was quite debilitating.

“Everybody who goes into space wants to do a good job and I am sure Tim is the same. It’s exciting but you’re there to do a job. He’ll probably have the whole five months mapped out.

“My trip was commercial, but I still carried out research while I was there.

“All the advice I can give is remember occasionally to look down at the Earth, take the time to have a break and stare out of the window.

“I met Tim 18 months ago at an event at Buckingham Palace and he’d already started training. He’s a great guy and I’m really pleased for him.”

Helen was 27 when she became the first Brit in space in 1991 after answering an ‘astronaut wanted, no experience necessary’ advert on the radio for Russian-backed mission to the Mir space station.

Remarkably, her stand-out memory from those life-changing eight days was the teamwork involved in making it a successful mission.

Helen said: “It was the feeling of doing something uncomfortable and dangerous together, knowing you couldn’t have done it alone which stays with me.”