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Anorak | The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The ‘First Brit In Space’

The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The ‘First Brit In Space’

by | 11th, March 2014

THE Observer salutes Tim Peake, “the First Brit in space”.

 

brits in space The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The First Brit In Space

 

Only, he isn’t.

The first Briton in space was Helen Sharman. In 1989, she won a contest to make the amazing trip. All other finalists in the search for a British astronaut were men.

 

PA 14356568 The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The First Brit In Space

The final four candidates to be the first Britain into space in the Juno Space Mission in Russia. From top left, clockwise: Clive Smith, Major Timothy Mace, Gordon Brooks and Helen Sharman.

 

Helen, a research technologist for Mars Confectionary, headed to Moscow.

 

PA 14356319 The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The First Brit In Space

Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman and her colleague Major Tim Mace arrive at Heathrow Airport from Moscow,
Date: 07/06/1991

 

On May 18 1991, Helen Sharman became the first Briton into Space.

She was made an MBE.

 

PA 1798631 The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The First Brit In Space

Helen Sharman, 27, from Surbiton, Surrey, who will blast-off aboard a Soyuz rocket with a crew of Russian cosmonauts as part of the Anglo-Soviet Juno Mission. Her selection was announced at a news conference in London. Date: 22/09/1991

 

But to the Observer, Sharman isn’t really British. Her trip didn’t count.

You’re being called “the first Brit in space”. That’s quite a thing to have on your business card.

Yes, I’ll board the International Space Station in November 2015. Helen Sharman was the first Brit in space back in ’91, but they’re calling me the first official Brit in space because I’m the first UK government astronaut, if you like. Helen’s was a kind of private, commercial-sponsored flight. But yeah, it’s a big deal!

If you get that business card, check it out. It’s wrong.

 

PA 1145699 The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The First Brit In Space

BRITISH COSMONAUT HELEN SHARMAN WITH THE SUIT SHE WORE DURING PROJECT JUNO, THE 1991 SPACE MISSION. THE SUIT IS ON PUBLIC EXHIBITION AT “SOTHEBY’S” BEFORE BEING AUCTIONED IN NEW YORK AS PART OF THE SALE DEDICATED TO ARTEFACTS FROM THE SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMME

 

In 2013, the Guardian had called Peake:

 

Screen shot 2014 03 11 at 08.38.43 The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The First Brit In Space

 

Peake told Wired:

Do you think that the continued references to you being the “first official” British astronaut undermines what Helen Sharman and others achieved before you? Does it really matter?

It does matter. It matters that Helen Sharman was the first British astronaut. I don’t get excited about titles or being “first” or anything. That’s something that’s simply been generated through a number of media articles and events. What is important is that the UK has now joined the ELIPS programme and the human spaceflight programme. That is very important indeed. That makes me the first “official” astronaut. When people say that, I relate it to the fact that I’m an astronaut at a time when the British government has joined the spaceflight programme. But Helen was the first and I would never want to take that away from her.

Good. And better than the Guardian 

Spotter: BlackSE

Previously.



Posted: 11th, March 2014 | In: News, Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink