The Guardian apparently decided that one way to honour International Women's Day this weekend would be to publish a headline erasing a woman from history. I'm not going to do the article any favours by linking it here, but the headline was "First Brit in space Tim Peake: 'We phone people because it's just so cool'".
Helen Sharman became the first British person in space in 1991, when she was 27. Yes, she flew as a private individual on a commercial flight rather than as a UK government representative of a space agency. That doesn't make her not British. So I'm afraid that however much certain people seem to want Timothy Peake to be the first British person in space, he isn't. END OF.
The first British person in space was a woman. Her name is Helen Sharman. (I make a point of working this fact into every outreach talk I ever give.) Remember that. Tell everyone. Because this kind of bullshit needs stamping on by many, many feet.
ETA: I note with interest that this morning, the headline has been changed to "First British man in space". I believe this is also wrong. The first British man who went into space was naturalised as an American beforehand. However, I do not think that anyone would enjoy quibbling with me about whether or not dual nationals still count as citizens of their birth countries. >:E
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