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Thirty years ago Helen Sharman became the first UK astronaut in space – so why do we only remember the men?

I

t’s like the old Peter Ustinov joke. When the writer and raconteur of Russian descent was at school in England, his teacher would demand: “Ustinov, name a Russian composer.” The young pupil would answer correctly “Rimsky-Korsakov, sir.” To which his teacher would snort: “Wrong. It’s Tchaikovsky – everybody knows that.”

It’s an experience Helen Sharman might recognise:

“Name a British astronaut.”

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