October 10, 2012
— British soprano Sarah Brightman has announced her plan to ride a Russian rocket into space for a 10-day visit to the International Space Station (ISS).
Brightman made her announcement Wednesday (Oct. 10) from Moscow during a press conference with Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, and Space Adventures, the Virginia firm that brokered the deal.
"Throughout most of my life I have felt an incredible desire to take the journey to space that I have now begun," said Brightman. "A journey into space is the greatest adventure I can imagine."
The singer will be the eighth private citizen to pay her way to space. The last spaceflight participant, or space tourist, Canadian Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, flew to orbit in 2009 for about $35 million. Space Adventures is not releasing the cost of Brightman's ticket, but it's almost certainly more than Laliberté's.
"The price of the flight is confidential, but it is a roundtrip ticket," Eric Anderson, Space Adventures's chairman, told reporters.
Brightman, who rose to fame in the Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera," said space has influenced her from a young age.
"My music has always been inspired by space," said Brightman. "It was because of seeing the first man on the moon back in the '60s that actually inspired me and gave me the courage to go into the career that I had."
"At moments when I am feeling nervous onstage or I am feeling unsure I actually look to the stars and the planets and space and it gives me courage and inspiration," said Brightman.
Sarah Brightman, recording artist and soprano singer, undergoes testing ahead of her training to launch to the space station.
Brightman will begin a 6-month cosmonaut training regime in Star City, Russia, after she completes a year-long world tour promoting her new album, "Dreamchaser," starting in January.
"This past July, Ms. Brightman completed and passed all of the required medical and physical evaluations; she's fit and mentally prepared for our training program," Alexey Krasnov, Roscosmos' head of the piloted programs, said in a statement. "We'll work closely with Space Adventures in supporting Ms. Brightman's spaceflight candidacy."
She will be part of a 3-person crew launching on a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan sometime after that. She will spend 10 days on board the space station, which orbits Earth from 250 miles (402 km) overhead.
"The final scheduling and the details of my trip by Soyuz rocket to the space station will be determined very shortly by Roscosmos and the ISS partners," Brightman said.
With NASA's space shuttle fleet retired, Russia's Soyuz spacecraft are the only vehicles currently available to fly people to the station. Since most spots on the capsules are needed for professional astronauts and cosmonauts, seats available to tourists have become scarce. However, a new plan for International Space Station crewmembers to begin serving yearlong missions, rather than their usual six-month stints, has opened some room on future Soyuz flights.
There is rumored to be a long list of interested millionaires and billionaires ready snatch up these available spots, so Brightman may have had competition for the opportunity.
"I think it speaks for itself the reasons why we would be so honored to have Ms. Brightman fly with us," Anderson said. "This is a very special woman who communicates and can transmit passion and emotion through music."
"If she is able to take that experience and carry that and communicate that back into the world so that millions of people can experience it, I think that will be a fantastic thing," Anderson said.
Classical singer Sarah Brightman has signed up to be the next spaceflight participant, or "space tourist." (SarahBrightman.com)
Brightman will be working with UNESCO as an Artist for Peace ambassador to use her flight as a tool to inspire people, especially girls and women, to pursue education in science and technology, and to communicate the need for environmental protection, she said.
"I am determined that this journey can reach out to be a force for good, a catalyst for some of the dreams and aims of others that resonate with me," Brightman said.
"When you're up there, Sarah, in the space station looking down on that perfect blue sphere that is Earth, you're not going to see political boundaries, you're going to see one perfect Earth that was created for everybody," said Neil Ford, UNESCO's director of public information.
Brightman isn't the first musician to pursue spaceflight. Former 'N Sync band member Lance Bass participated in cosmonaut training in Russia in 2002 in preparation for a trip on the Soyuz planned for later that year. However, his funding, which was based on a plan to air a documentary of his training and voyage, fell through and he never flew.
When she launches, Brightman will be the first recording artist to travel to Earth orbit.
The first space tourist to fly, American investor Dennis Tito, made his trip in 2001 for a reported $20 million. Since then, six other people have brokered trips through Space Adventures to ride on Russian Soyuz to the station. One of them, Hungarian-American computer software billionaire Charles Simonyi, flew twice, in 2007 and 2009.