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Sarah Brightman to visit International Space Station

Elizabeth Howell, News Writer
Oct 11, 2012, 7:00 UTC

Sen— Internationally renowned UK soprano Sarah Brightman plans to visit the International Space Station in the next few years.

Brightman will fly on a Russian Soyuz spaceship through an arrangement with Space Adventures, a United States-based company that previously flew space tourists including Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, and entrepreneur Dennis Tito. Brightman will be the eighth space tourist to fly with Space Adventures.

At a press conference in Moscow October 10, Brightman spoke of her dream of space, which began when as "an incredulous child" she saw television coverage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the Moon for the first time in 1969.

"A journey into space is the greatest adventure I can imagine," said Brightman, adding, "Believing something should be out of reach should never stop us stretching for it. The journey should be as rewarding as meeting the destination."

Most of the details of the spaceflight are still being worked out. The flight will take place sometime after Brightman completes a worldwide tour for her latest album, Dreamchaser. The tour takes place in 2013, and then Brightman has six months of spaceflight training ahead of her in Russia. This means she would likely fly no earlier than 2014.

The timing is also contingent on the international partners working on the space station, which include the European Space Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and NASA. Brightman has passed a preliminary medical assessment for her flight.

While in space, Brightman plans to leverage her role as Artist for Peace for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Her goal, she said, is to promote the goal of sustainability through activities such as concerts and multimedia.

Sarah Brightman

Sarah Brightman. Credit: Sarah Brightman

"I want to engage people, particularly younger people, to think about how we manage our resources," she said. "Sustainability is about meeting our needs today while respecting the needs of future generations."

The singer's work in space will also include a heavy emphasis on education, particularly for girls and women in developing countries. The agenda will be released at a later date, she added.

Brightman's purchase price for a ride into space was not disclosed; in media reports, Laliberté (the most recent Space Adventures' client) is said to have spent about £22m (US$35 million).

"The price of the flight is confidential, but it is a round-trip ticket," quipped Eric Anderson, founder of Space Adventures, at the news conference.

The singer's brief stay on the ISS will be the first one for Space Adventures since 2009.

Seats on the Soyuz spacecraft that Space Adventures use have been limited since the shuttle program concluded in 2011. As the Soyuz is the only certified way that American astronauts can reach the space station at the moment, most of the seats are occupied by government personnel doing extended missions on the station.

Brightman, who was trained as a dancer, rose to fame through starring performances in the musicals Cats and Phantom of the Opera. She has released several solo albums and received awards in more than 40 countries.

This will be the ninth flight for Space Adventures, which has been supplying flights to clients since Tito to space on a Soyuz 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 Laliberté in September 2009.

While Tito is the first person to pay for space travel out of his own pocket, there were other private ventures in space in the past.

The first privately funded spaceflight occurred when Japanese television reporter Toyohiro Akiyama joined the Soyuz TM-11 mission and spent eight days aboard the Mir space station in December 1990. That was organized in a deal between Japan’s Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) and the Soviet Union.

Further, a number of British companies funded Helen Sharman for a Soyuz mission to the Mir space station in May 1991.