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Singer Sarah Brightman postpones spaceflight

Irene Klotz, Spaceflight Correspondent
May 14, 2015, 3:50 UTC

Sen—British singer Sarah Brightman is bailing out of plans for a 10-day spaceflight to the International Space Station later this year, citing personal family reasons.

The announcement on Brightman’s Facebook page Wednesday follows Russia’s decision Tuesday to delay the next station crew’s launch two months while investigators probe a possible problem with its Soyuz rockets. Brightman had been slated to fly in September during the following crew’s handover flight. That flight has not yet been rescheduled, but is likely to be delayed.

It was not known if the postponements impacted Brightman’s decision to call off her training.

“Ms. Brightman said that for personal family reasons her intentions have had to change and she is postponing her cosmonaut training and flight plans at this time. She would like to express her extreme gratitude to Roscosmos, Energia, GCTC (Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center), Star City, NASA and all the cosmonauts and astronauts, for their support during this exciting time in her life,” the statement on Brightman’s Facebook page said.

Space Adventures, the U.S. company that arranges tourist flights to the station, did not immediately reply to a request for comment, nor whether Brightman’s backup, Japanese entrepreneur Satoshi Takamatsu, will take her place.

Both Brightman and Takamatsu began training in Russia in January.

In a statement, Space Adventures said that Brightman had passed all of her training and medical tests to date.

“We’ve seen firsthand her dedication to every aspect of her spaceflight training … We applaud her determination and we’ll continue to support her as she pursues a future spaceflight opportunity,” Space Adventures co-founder and chairman Eric Anderson said in a statement.

Brightman, 54, was to become the eighth tourist and first professional singer to visit the station. One tourist, Microsoft co-founder Charles Simonyi, made two trips. The last paying passenger to fly to the station was Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté who spent 11 days aboard the station in 2009, at a cost of about $35 million.

Brightman was due to fly with cosmonaut Sergey Volkov and European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen. Volkov will join the live-aboard crew, while the Space Adventures client and Mogensen return to Earth with current station flight engineer Gennady Padalka.

Soyuz rocket launches are on hold while Russia investigates a potential problem with the rockets, following a failed cargo resupply flight last month.

Brightman was to pay about $52 million for her trip.