Sarah Brightman to Be Next Space Tourist
Confirming rumors that have been swirling for some time, English recording artist Sarah Brightman was officially introduced at a Moscow press conference today as the next "spaceflight participant" to visit the International Space Station (ISS).
Russia has launched several such "space tourists" to the ISS since Dennis Tito was first in 2001, but those flights have been suspended while NASA needs Soyuz seats to take U.S. and other non-Russian ISS crews members to and from ISS. Each Soyuz can accommodate only three people. NASA pays Russia about $56 million "per seat" today (which will increase to about $63 million in 2014) which includes transportation up and back and training. Prices for space tourists are rumored to be the $20-25 million range according to press reports over the years, but the actual price is a closely held secret. How much Brightman is paying was asked at the press conference, but Eric Anderson, Chairman of Space Adventures, said it was "confidential."
Space Adventures is the U.S.-based company that arranges many of these space tourism flights. It posted a video of the Moscow press conference on YouTube, though it is as much glitzy advertisement as news event. Brightman begins her statement by going on about upcoming recordings and concerts during 2013 before she begins six months of more intensive spaceflight training. Born in 1960, she says the TV images of Neil Armstrong stepping out on the Moon in 1969 opened her mind to the possibility of journeying into space herself.
Brightman says that details on exactly when the mission will take place will be announced soon after consultation with the other ISS partners, but it is widely expected in 2015. The decision by Russia and the other ISS partners to keep two ISS crewmembers in space for a one-year mission beginning in 2015 is rumored to have been influenced by Russia's desire to resume space tourism flights and Brightman's in particular. Keeping two crewmembers aboard ISS through a regular crew rotation will open up those Soyuz seats for other passengers.
Brightman said she wants to tie her spaceflight to her work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for which she is an "Artist for Peace." A UNESCO representative who spoke at the press conference heralded her flight's potential to advance UNESCO's goals.
Calling herself not a dreamer, but a dream chaser, Brightman said she hopes to encourage others to take inspiration from her journey "both to chase down their own dreams and help fulfill important global objectives." "Dreamchaser" is the title of a new album she will release next year and has become the theme of her space mission. Brightman has set up a website for fans to follow her training and the mission.
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