How does it feel to be in space?
So very few people can actually answer that question. And even those who can answer it probably can’t truly convey a satisfying answer to the rest of us–surely, the experience is, in a word, indescribable.
It’s fitting, then, that perhaps the best, most vivid description of being in space (the stunningly animated video above) should come from the world’s unlikeliest astronaut–the astronaut most like the rest of us.
In 1989, 26-year-old British chemist Helen Sharman was working with chocolate flavorings for Mars Incorporated (the makers of M&M’s, Snickers, and more) when she responded to a radio advertisement for Project Juno. The project was an open call for the amateur astronaut (reportedly, one infamous newspaper ad for the project read, “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary.”) that would become Britain’s first person in space. Eager to finally get a human in space, a group of private British firms collaborated with Cold War rivals the Soviet Union to place one Briton on the upcoming flight to the Mir space station.
Among 13,000 other applicants, Sharman was, on live television, chosen for the mission. After 18 months of intense training–and a serious threat of cancellation due to dwindling funds (the project only continued because the Soviets put up more money)–Sharman launched into space on May 18, 1991.
She never returned to space, but, to this day, dreams of her time there. In the video above (A Place Called Space), she shares a recurring dream of hers, about returning to space. Float into space with Sharman and discover what it’s like to gaze down upon planet Earth from far, far above.