British soprano Sarah Brightman will begin training in January for a 2015 visit to the International Space Station, the Russian news agency Tass reported this week.
Brightman, 54, launched into the global spotlight in the 1980s with her portrayal of Christine Daae in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Phantom of the Opera." Her 11th solo album, Dreamchaser, was released in 2013.
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A long-time space buff, Brightman announced in 2012 that she intended to travel as a "spaceflight participant" to the station, an orbital research complex that flies about 260 miles above Earth.
Virginia-based Space Adventures is arranging the trip, which is estimated to cost about $52 million.
Brightman will become the seventh paying tourist to visit the station. The last non-astronaut to make the trip was Cirque du Soleil founder and chief executive Guy Laliberte in September 2009. [The First Space Tourists (A Photo Timeline)]
Microsoft co-founder Charles Simonyi is the only tourist to have visited twice.
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With NASA's space shuttles retired, all available seats on Russian Soyuz capsules — currently the only transportation system flying people to the station — have been needed to ferry crewmembers. A seat will become available in 2015 because two station crewmembers will be participating in an experimental year-long flight.
Brightman also has booked a suborbital space ride aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, which is undergoing testing in California’s Mojave Desert. Commercial passenger service is expected to begin next year.
Waiting in the wings for another Soyuz ride to the station is Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who has an option to fly on the next available seat, most likely in 2017, Space Adventures president Tom Shelley said at a National Space Club Florida Committee meeting in June.
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NASA is working with three companies to develop commercial space taxis, in hopes of breaking Russia’s monopoly before the end of 2017. Space Adventures has an exclusive agreement with one of the contenders, Boeing, to sell rides to privately paying passengers aboard its CST-100 capsules.
Shelley said the price should be less than the current $52 million it costs to ride on a Soyuz.
This article was provided by Discovery News.