How a little bit of luck can take you to space

Helen Sharman - the First Briton in space

Each week at work we pick a mindfulness message out of a jar for the week ahead to help us focus on ourselves and find positivity in our day-to-day lives.

One week, the message we drew was about celebrating your good fortunes. Sometimes we do get lucky and it’s important to appreciate when that happens and make the most of the opportunities.

Last year I went to see Dr. Helen Sharman CMG OBE give a talk called “Out of this World” at The Royal Society in London to alumni of the University of Sheffield where I studied for three great years. Helen was the first British person in space and I hadn’t heard much about her story before but it was really interesting. The Sheffield Friday night ‘Space’ at the student union was probably the closest I’ll ever get.

Helen has also recently been in the news in 2020 as she publicly said that aliens exist and could be living among us on Earth.

Helen Sharman delivering a lecture

She went from working for Mars (the chocolate manufacturer) developing their first ice creams, to being selected to go to the Mir Space Station in 1991. It all started with Helen hearing an advert on the radio in 1989 and taking a chance with an application. After 18 months of training (and learning Russian) Helen was able to spend eight days in space.

Helen’s journey definitely had some elements of luck. She heard the advert for a space mission on the radio in a car journey (she had never considered space exploration before that). She also beat around 13,000 other applicants to get onto the training programme.

Some of things Helen touched on were:

  • The natural and relaxing feeling of weightlessness in space.
  • How it’s not currently possible to grow fruit and vegetables in space, but as a chemist, she looked forward to growing crystals and doing other experiments.
  • A lot of the water from the toilets is able to be purified and re-used.
  • The Mir space station goes around the earth around 16 times a day giving amazing views of darkness and light – those on board love having windows!
  • She also thinks that by the end of the 2030s humans could land on Mars. Her feeling is that first humans to go there have definitely been born and are probably at school now, with China and USA in a real race to get there first. It is likely to cost less than an annual defence budget, but getting there and back will take around 18 months.
  • The next generation in space will need different skillsets and Mars could be followed by humans going to Uranus next in the long-term future.

Have you had any lucky breaks recently that you want to celebrate? And would you head into space if you had the chance?

Originally posted on my LinkedIn page

The Royal Society - London



  1. Gene
    February 11, 2020 / 1:15 pm

    Space walk hmmm?

  2. Ibrahim
    January 16, 2020 / 2:30 pm

    I didn’t expect to find myself on this page but it was definitely an interesting read. To me it seems that it’s never too late to consider a change of career.

    I’m not too sure if aliens live among us though :/ lol

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