First British astronaut to visit space Helen Sharman tells her story at Norwich Science Festival
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
The first ever Briton to visit outer space, Helen Sharman OBE, retold her inspiring journey at Norwich Cathedral.
The Norwich Science Festival headliner took audiences back to when she first heard about the astronaut vacancy whilst working as a chemist for a chocolate company. Mrs Sharman did not expect to hear anything back from her application, but was shocked to discover she had been selected from 13,000 candidates.
From there, she undertook an intensive 18 month training process in Star City, Russia, rigorously familiarising herself with in-flight procedures.
On May 18, 1991, at only 27 years of age, Mrs Sharman was launched into space aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
She spent eight days in orbit, performing medical and agricultural tests, as well as photographing the British Isles.
Lizzie Daly, of BBC Earth Unplugged and CBeebies fame, also gave a talk, offering an insight into the world through the eyes of different species.
The television presenter and biologist has been impressed by her first visit to the festival.
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She said: 'There has been a huge variety of people here doing shows and experiments. I think it is completely innovative and I have been totally inspired.'
Today, the festival shifts its gaze towards the role of science in tackling global environmental challenges.
The Forum will be playing host to a series of talks and activities that illuminate how scientific advancements can optimise food production processes and minimise the effects of climate change.
Professor Gregory Woodhouse, of UEA, will be explaining the concept of chemical frustration and how it might lead to the development of revolutionary new technologies which enable sustainable production of food, fuel and power.
Many more UEA scientists will also be in attendance, collecting soil samples for antibiotic testing. Visitors who registered to provide a back garden sample will be able to track the progress of their soil online, and observe the shape, size and colour of bacteria living within it.
Meanwhile, in the Explorium, visitors will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with bees in a mini hive, and researchers will be on hand to explain why exactly these creatures are so indispensable to life on earth.