article image

Sarah Brightman sets the tone for her space mission

Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen
Mar 11, 2015, 1:02 UTC

Sen—Sarah Brightman provided further details of her scheduled flight to the International Space Station at a press conference held in London on Mar. 10.

The singer, who has been training for her flight at Star City in Russia, is due to launch to the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on Sep. 1, 2015 for a ten day mission at the orbiting outpost. The trip, which was first announced in Oct. 2012, is being organised by U.S. agency Space Adventures Ltd which brokered the deal with the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The spaceflight is a life long dream for Brightman who described in a statement how she became inspired by space when she was 9 years old and watched the first Moon landing. Describing herself as "incredibly excited and sometimes overwhelmed" she explained: "It was always my ambition to fly to space, it’s something I dreamed about and wanted. 

"I now have the luck, I’m going up on the Russian Soyuz to the International Space Station. And if possible, I want others to take inspiration from my journey and chase their own dreams."

The singer began her six months of training in January this year. She described studying and training 15 to 16 hours a day. “I live with the thought of this travel every second of my life. I wake up with it, I go to sleep with it, I dream of it. I cannot believe this is happening," she explained.

During her stay on the orbiting complex she intends to become the first international recording artist to perform live in space, though she needs to see how microgravity affects her voice. Her former husband, the composer Lord Lloyd Webber, has written her a song in celebration of her spaceflight, which will be released later this year.

As well as performing, Brightman will use the mission to promote the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, where she is an advisory board member. Challenger Learning Centers are equipped with an interactive simulator with a mission control room modeled after NASA's Johnson Space Center and a space station ready for exploration. The facilities enable students to take part in simulated space missions, encouraging them to experience team work and problem solving, and to learn new skills.

A new initiative Brightman is promoting for the Challenger Center will enable students to submit videos of themselves performing one of her songs, with the public having a vote on their favourite. A 'musical mashup' will be created from the public favourites and will be premiered whilst Brightman is on the ISS. A live chat between students in the UK and U.S. and the artist will also take place whilst she is aboard the space station.

As well as her trip to the space station, Brightman has a contract for a suborbital flight with Virgin Galactic. A further initiative has seen Brightman donate to the STEM scholarship (science, technology, engineering and maths) of Galactic Unite, an organisation created by Virgin Galactic's future astronaut community to encourage STEM and entrepreneurship to find answers to global challenges.

Brightman, who is paying U.S. $52m for the experience, is the eighth client of Space Adventures, following in the footsteps of Denis Tito, who flew in April 2001. Tito was followed Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur (April 2002), Amercian Greg Olsen (October 2005), Anousheh Ansari (September 2006, the first Iranian astronaut), Charles Simonyi (April 2007 and a second in March 2009), Richard Garriott (October 2008) and Guy Laliberté in September 2009.

Brightman is designated a 'spaceflight participant' as a means of distinguishing private space travellers from government sponsored astronauts. Joining her for the Soyuz launch will be Andreas Mogensen and cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. This is Mogensen's maiden spaceflight and he will become the first Dane in space.

When she launches into space, Brightman will become equal 544th person (with Mogensen) to reach space (applying the 100 km international definition of space). She will be the 60th female in space.


Sarah Brightman in her Sokol space suit during training. Image credit: Space Adventures