Skip to content

Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, reflects on her mission to the Mir space station 25 years ago. You can visit Helen’s website here. Space missions capture the imagination. They turn people on to science. They broaden our horizons too. I can hardly believe that it has been 25 years since I played my small part in this great adventure, the next phase of human exploration. My journey into space began in 1989 after I had answered an advertisement […]

The ideas that fuelled the birth of the space age dawned much longer ago than many realise. In their research for our Cosmonauts exhibition, Science Museum curators traced the origins of the first great leap into space by Yuri Gagarin in 1961 to events that took place well before the turn of the 20th century. Russian fascination with the cosmos first flickered into life in the 1880s with the appearance in print of the first translations of Western science fiction novels […]

During the preparations for our landmark exhibition, Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, we reunited Britain’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman, with her spacesuit around a quarter of a century after she first wore it for her pioneering mission to the Mir space station. Helen’s journey began in 1989 when she, then a food technologist, answered an advertisement that she had heard on her car radio:  “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary.” With Timothy Mace, she was eventually selected from over 13,000 […]

Half a century after he risked his life to become the first person to go on a spacewalk, Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov today joined Science Museum Director Ian Blatchford to announce the museum’s most ambitious temporary exhibition to date, Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, supported by BP. Tickets are now on sale for the exhibition, which opens on 18 September 2015 and will feature the greatest collection of Soviet spacecraft and artefacts ever assembled in once place, including eight that had […]

Look closely at this picture from the Russian module of the International Space Station and you will see two images of a man with a white beard. Known as the grandfather of Soviet space travel, this man dreamt of international space stations as early as the 1890s and cosmonauts still pay homage to him today. Born on this day (17 September) in 1857, the man’s name is Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. Tsiolkovsky’s contribution to the science of space travel is diverse and […]

By a guest author

The First Spacewalk

In the ghostly black and white footage of the first ever spacewalk, cosmonaut Alexei Leonov floats in and out of frame. It is a haunting sight, especially when you learn Leonov did not think he would be able to climb back inside the spaceship.

Julia Tcharfas, Curatorial Assistant for our upcoming Cosmonauts exhibition, reflects on over fifty years of manned space flight.