Brightman's star rockets to space on Russian ship

British singer dreamed of space tourism since watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2012, 1:36pm

British singer Sarah Brightman has bought a ticket to fly on a Russian spaceship, in a quest to fulfil a childhood desire beyond her "wildest dreams".

Brightman, 52, who is famous for starring in The Phantom of the Opera, plans to rocket some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth to the International Space Station - becoming the first space tourist since Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte donned a red clown's nose on his 2009 trip.

"I am more excited about this than I have been about anything I have done to date," Brightman, in platform heels and a silky black dress, told reporters on a visit to Moscow. "Most of my life I have felt an incredible desire to take the journey to space that I have now begun," she said.

"This is beyond my wildest dreams."

A press conference held for the announcement began with a music video advertising Brightman's new album Dream Chaser, due for release in January.

The video of her crooning the album's top track Angel is spliced with footage of her as a child and famous moments from Soviet space history.

The commercial flights to the ISS for space tourists are organised through US-based company Space Adventures, whose chairman Eric Anderson accompanied Brightman in Moscow.

Alexei Krasnov, head of human spaceflight at the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said the task of taking Brightman into space is "fully achievable in the nearest future" and confirmed she had no medical problems.

Space tourism flights are expected to resume in 2013.

Brightman, a Unesco artist for peace, said seeing fuzzy television images of the first "bouncing" human steps on the moon in 1969 when she was eight years old inspired her dream to travel to space. "It was something miraculous. For me it was an epiphany," she said of the experience.

"It seemed so unrealistic and crazy at the time but I suddenly saw that it was possible," she said.

While the diva did not disclose the price tag of the trip, the ninth brokered by American firm Space Adventures, it can be expected to be at least as much as Russia charges Nasa astronauts for the privilege - more than US$50 million.

The adventure package includes 12 days in orbit. Brightman said she will use her mission to promote education for women in the sciences and raise environmental awareness.

The star - who sung about her enthusiasm for space in thigh-high boots and a sequined leotard in her 1970s hit I Lost my Heart to a Starship Trooper - has already booked a ride on Virgin Galactic's planned suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle.

A decade after U.S. businessman Dennis Tito became Russia's first space tourist, the commercial space flight industry is heating up.

The singer will be the first space tourist on Russia's Soyuz spaceship since 2009 after seats on the three-person craft became scarce when Nasa mothballed its shuttles, leaving Russian rockets the only ones capable of carrying crews into orbit.

But Nasa is considering doubling the time an astronaut spends on the orbital station to one year - to lay the groundwork for future missions deeper into space - potentially freeing up seats for tourist in 2015.

Brightman married composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 1980s and pursued a chart-topping solo career after they split in 1990, bringing classical music to a broader audience and selling millions of records along the way.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse