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VIDEO: First Briton in space awarded astronaut pin

The first Briton in space Helen Sharman has been awarded the first of the British Interplanetary Society's (BIS) silver astronaut pins.

To be awarded to all Britons that have gone into space Sharman flew to the Mir space station onboard the Soyuz TM-12 spacecraft on 18 May 1991 for an eight-day mission.

Called Project Juno the mission had been initiated by London based Moscow Narodny Bank, a subsidiary of the Soviet Union's Vnesheconombanka bank. It had hoped it could organise private funding to send a foreign citizen to the Mir space station.

Sharman was selected from over 13,000 applicants after the mission was advertised in 1989 and spent 18-months in cosmonaut training with her backup crew member British Army air corps Major Tim Mace.

"I feel really honoured. I think its great the British Interplanetary Society has been really strong in promoting human spaceflight," Sharman told Flightglobal on 3 July at the BIS headquarters in London after the ceremony. Sharman, then working in the UK food industry, carried out a series of experiments on plant life during her stay on Mir.

On 3 July the BIS also awarded a silver pin to UK born US citizen Richard Garriott, the sixth spaceflight participant to go to the International Space Station. Garriott, the son of NASA Skylab and Space Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott, made his money in the computer game industry.

The BIS plans to award British born NASA astronauts Michael Foale, Piers Sellers and Nick Patrick silver pins in the near future.

Despite reports in 1991 and since that Project Juno was a private mission the Soviet bank failed to raise any significant private financing. Juno was managed by Brunel University's Institute for Bio-Engineering and staff involved with the project at the time told Flightglobal that the entire mission was paid for by the Soviet government. It finally went ahead with the approval of then Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev.

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