First Briton in space leads extravaganza of science

Published: 16 September 2022 at 14:00

Chelmsford Science Festival logo

The inaugural Chelmsford Science Festival runs from 12-18 October 2022

The first British astronaut, Helen Sharman OBE, will give a headline talk at the inaugural Chelmsford Science Festival, taking place across the city between 12-18 October and organised by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

During her talk on Tuesday, 18 October, Helen will explain how, in May 1991, she spent eight days orbiting the Earth after being chosen from a pool of 13,000 applicants. As part of the selection process, she undertook rigorous psychological and medical assessments, and had to train intensively for 18 months to prepare her body for the harsh environment of space.

The talk will take place at Chelmsford Cathedral in front of the spectacular Gaia installation, which will be on display throughout the festival.

Helen’s talk is just one of several fascinating and free events at the festival, which will feature world-leading experts speaking about issues ranging from the future of work to the secrets of visual short-term memory, and from the science of getting fit to how nano-technology can benefit all aspects of our lives.

The festival also features a free Family Science Day taking place at ARU’s Chelmsford campus from 10am until 4pm on Saturday, 15 October, featuring hands-on and fun activities for people of all ages. People will have the chance to meet Titan the Robot, see shows from Cloud Factory and Bubble Superstars, and even experience a different body through virtual reality.

An exciting science quiz night will take place on Thursday, 13 October at ARU’s Chelmsford campus from 7.30pm until 9pm, where participants can pit their wits against others across several subjects.

There will also be the opportunity to see the artist’s preview of Forecast 22, a new digital and artwork exhibition celebrating 100 years of British broadcasting. Forecast 22 includes 3D immersive and interactive scans of the Writtle hut, the site of the first UK radio broadcasts. This features alongside historic broadcast material reimagined by local artists and musicians, including students from the ARU Music and Performing Arts Societies. The event will take place at Chelmsford Museum in Oaklands Park, and will be introduced by artist Sian Fan and curator Sarah Harvey.

The Chelmsford Science Festival follows on from the hugely successful British Science Festival that was hosted by ARU in September 2021. All the events at the festival are free to attend, but places are limited and must be booked in advance. For more information and for booking, visit

Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:

“Last year’s British Science Festival made it clear that people in Chelmsford have a real appetite for science, and we are delighted to be able to follow that up in 2022 with another fantastic festival in the city.

“We are proud to be able to showcase some of the fascinating insights by our world-leading experts, and once again events will take place across the city. I hope as many people as possible will come along and be part of it.”