Music in space | INTERVIEW | Helen Sharman, first British woman in space speaks about her musical passion

Helen Sharman, first British woman in space, discusses her love of music

Helen Sharman, first British woman in space, discusses her love of music

In this interview, Darius Riahy speaks to Helen Sharman, the British chemist and cosmonaut who, in 1991, became the first British person in space.

Born in Grenoside, Sheffield, Helen Sharman studied Chemistry at the University of Sheffield and at Birkbeck, University of London, before going on to work as a research and development technologist for GEC in London and later as a chemist for Mars dealing with the flavouring properties of chocolate.

One day, while commuting home from work she heard a radio advertisement. ‘Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary.’ The programme was known as Project Juno and was a mission to enhance the relationship between the UK and the Soviet Union. After responding to a radio advertisement asking for applicants to be the first British space explorer, Sharman was selected out of nearly 13,000 other applicants for the mission live on ITV, on 25 November 1989.  She later recalled that she was more excited about the training than the flying itself, saying that ‘It wasn’t so much going to space as the training that appealed, living in Russia, learning the language, doing advanced mechanics. It was a way out of the rat race.’ Since then she has devoted a lot of time to communicating science to the public.

In her spare time, however, Sharman is also keen amateur musician, who loves listening to music as well as playing the saxophone and piano. In this interview she discusses her passion for music, as well as her role in Moonshot, a new mixed-genre album embracing the wonder of space and science, that features Sharman performing a piano piece.

The interview also ties in with the upcoming release of a debut album destined for the moon: Hello_World,  which is being loaded onto NASA’s spacecraft to be launched into Space this Christmas Eve, becoming the first music album to be left on the moon for future generations to come.

Moonshot is released today (Friday November 10th 2023). For more information on the official album launch event on Tuesday November 14th, click here.

To listen to Helen Sharman’s podcast: ZeroPressure, click here.


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