First Briton in Space Says 'Aliens Exist, There's No Two Ways About It'

Helen Sharman, who became the first Briton in space 28 years ago, has publicly announced that she believes extraterrestrial life exists — and aliens might be among us on Earth right now.

In an interview with The Guardian, Sharman stated unequivocally, "Aliens exist, there's no two ways about it. There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of forms of life.

"Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not. It's possible they're right here right now and we simply can't see them."

Astronauts riding subway trail
Astronauts riding subway train designprojects / Getty Images

At 56, Sharman continues to enjoy the legacy of being the first astronaut from her country. She told The Guardian "I've never defined myself by my gender, and I continue not to do so. People often describe me as the first British woman in space, but I was actually the first British person. It's telling that we would otherwise assume it was a man."

Before going to space, Sharman, who holds a Ph.D. from Birkbeck, University of London, was employed as a chemist for chocolate maker Mars, in an ironic twist.

In 1989 she responded to a radio ad for Project Juno, a joint British-Soviet venture to send a group of Britons to space. Four candidates were selected out of 19,000 applicants, including an Air Corps Major and a Navy physician, but only Sharman ended up making the flight.

After 18 months of training, Sharman boarded the Soyuz TM-12 mission in May 1991. She spent eight days outside of the Earth's gravity, mostly in the space station Mir.

While there, she participated in a number of experiments and cultural activities, including photographing the British Isles from space and engaging in a shortwave radio conversation with schoolchildren.

After returning to Earth, Sharman began working as an educator and ambassador to raise public interest in the sciences. Her autobiography, Seize The Moment, came out in 1993.

General consensus is that extraterrestrial life exists somewhere in the universe, simply by statistical probability. Human scientists have discovered the existence of over 4,000 planets outside of our solar system, and the SETI program continually scans for radio signal evidence of broadcast transmission. However, with between 100 and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way, there are a lot of places to look.

Couple that with the fact that the nearest solar system to ours is Proxima Centauri, 4.24 light-years away, and the chances of encountering alien life that has not developed faster-than-light travel is virtually nonexistent. At our current level of technology, it would take humans 6,300 years to reach that star.