SOKOL Zvezda space suit worn by Helen Sharman, CC BY Science Museum/ Science and Society Picture Library
Helen Sharman was the first British person to go into space, that is pretty impressive!
She was chosen to be part of the Juno mission to go up to the MIR Space station in 1991. If you hover your mouse over the image you can zoom in on the badge on her suit which shows the name and date of the mission.
Space suits like this one were developed to protect astronauts from the harsh environment when they were exploring outer space. They would help the astronaut to breathe and protect their body from high pressure.
Space exploration really took off after the Second World War when America and the Soviet Union were competing in the Space Race. This wasn’t an official race but rather a competition between two rival countries to see who could get into outer space first.
Nowadays lots of different countries have sent people into space. Interestingly it tends to be men who are sent into space, even today there have only ever been 60 women in space compared to over 450 men. That is why Helen Sharman was such an important astronaut, she was a pioneer for female scientists and explorers.
Things to think about:
- Why do you think it was mainly men who were sent into space?
- Do you know any other famous female explorers?
- Can you think of any other inventions which helped people to explore?
Space exploration was a huge part of the 20th century and continues to be really important today. Students can learn about how our understanding of outer space has changed through both human and satelite exploration.
This British Pathe film from 1957 shows early attitudes towards space travel and the role that dogs played in early flights. It plays through YouTube and is just over 2 mins long.
The Science Museum has a really great teaching resource with loads of photos from Tim Peak's recent trip to the International Space Station, these are a good tool to spark your students interest.
Teachers can also visit the Science Museum Group learning resources website.This website brings together learning resources from the four Museums in the Science Museum Group, including activities, games and videos. Browse all the resources and discover activities to support a range of curriculum topics for use in the classroom, in museum galleries and beyond.
- Helen Sharman was the first Briton to travel into space. She responded to an advert she heard on her car radio which said, ‘Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary.’ Helen was eventually selected from 13,000 applicants to represent the British Juno Mission and she spent 18 months training in Star City before the launch. Her spacesuit was made just for her, she was measured in 54 different places to make sure it was a snug fit and would keep her safe during the mission.
- Helen Sharman was the first British person to go into space, that is pretty impressive!