October 11, 2012
British Singer Sarah Brightman To Visit International Space Station
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
One of Britain´s most beloved sopranos, Sarah Brightman, is making plans to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2013. Brightman, who is best known for her roles in the British productions of Cats and Phantom of the Opera in the 80s, told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday that she will join an elite list of tourists who have actually visited the orbiting space lab.
Brightman, 52, a one-time spouse of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be part of a three-person crew flying to the ISS aboard a Soyuz mission in 2015. After she completes her next tour in 2013, Brightman is scheduled to spend a rigorous six months in training at the Star City cosmonaut training facility in Moscow before embarking on the once-in-a-lifetime journey into the cosmos.
Previous tourists that have graced the halls of the high-flying space lab, include Dennis Tito, an American-Italian engineer who became the first space station tourist in 2001; American scientist Gregory Olsen, who made the journey in 2005; and Guy Laliberte, a Canadian poker player, among other things, who was the last tourist to visit the lab in 2009. These three notables are among an elite list of just eight people to have made the lucrative journey.
If all goes as planned, Sarah Brightman will be space tourist number 9.
“This voyage is a product of a dream, my dream. Finally it can be a reality. I am more excited about this than anything I have done in my life to date,” she said during the news conference in Moscow.
She added that the schedule for her flight should be announced shortly by “Roscosmos and the ISS partners.”
Alexey Krasnov, head of the ISS program at Roscosmos, told reporters at the conference that Brightman had passed all the required mental and physical exams necessary to be green-lighted for the next phase of spaceflight training.
Vienna-based Space Adventures, the company that books flights for the private sector, had not disclosed the fee Brightman paid for her reservation, but Laliberte, the 2009 space station tourist, doled out $35 million for his presence in space.
Brightman, who released the 1978 hit ℠I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper,´ is recording a new album, Dreamchaser, and will go on tour to commemorate the album. She said: “I think of myself not just as a dreamer, but as a dream chaser,” referring to her goal of becoming the first recording artist in space.
“I hope that I can encourage others to take inspiration from my journey both to chase down their own dreams and to help fulfill the important UNESCO mandate to promote peace and sustainable development on Earth and from space,” Brightman, who is a UNESCO ambassador, said in a statement to the LA Times' Mary Forgione.
Eric Anderson, cofounder and chairman of Space Adventures, said he believes Brightman is “a natural candidate” for this journey. She is “somebody whose entire career revolves around inspiring people and communicating messages and really inspiring emotion “¦ When they come back they can really share that experience with a much broader set of the public.”
While the cost of a seat on the Soyuz for most tourists has been in the tens of millions of dollars, and has been a boon for the Russian space agency, it announced in 2010 that it would halt space tourism for lack of free seats on its Soyuz capsules. The Soyuz has become the only means of ferrying crews to the ISS since NASA retired its Shuttle program last year. The US pays in excess of $50 million per seat for a seat on the Soyuz.
While Space Adventures has not released the fee Brightman paid, it is likely to rival that of an American ticket, and perhaps could give Russia the incentive to continue offering space tours.
Wednesday´s announcement also coincided the successful docking of SpaceX´s Dragon capsule with the ISS, the first ever resupply mission for a private space firm to the space station. SpaceX and other private firms are looking to become the backbone of NASA´s human spaceflight program and could have manned flights as early as 2015, potentially ending US reliance on Russia to ferry its astronauts.