Pre-flight trainings of British famed soprano singer Sarah Brightman for her journey to the International Space Station (ISS) have been delayed until next week as the artist had to return to Britain to attend to her ill mother, an official with the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), said on Friday.
A spokesman for Russia's Star City space training facility outside Moscow told media earlier that Brightman’s pre-flight trainings, which were due to begin on Thursday, were postponed until the next week because the singer caught cold upon her arrival in Moscow.
However, Alexey Krasnov, who is in charge of the Russian Space Agency’s piloted programs, told TASS on Friday that Brightman “had to fly away for family reasons, but pledged to be back in Moscow on Sunday.”
Krasnov said the British space tourist would begin her trainings on Monday adding that Brightman did not backpedal from the flight in favor of her substitute, who is 51-year-old Japanese businessman Satoshi Takamatsu.
“There were no instructions that she had refused to take part in the space flight,” Krasnov said.
Takamatsu is the president of the newly created Space Travel company. He has already undergone medical tests and training at the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. The businessman is expected to be trained at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well.
Brightman, 54, who starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Phantom of the Opera” and is the world’s best-selling soprano singer with over 30 million of CDs sold, first announced her intentions to travel to the ISS as a space tourist in August 2012.
In 2013, Roscosmos signed a relevant agreement with US-based Space Adventures Ltd. company to proceed with the superstar’s plans of traveling into space.
Tom Shelley, the president of Space Adventures, said last year that Brightman would pay a total of $52 million for her flight on board of the Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, where she plans to spend 10 days as a space tourist with ISS Expedition 45/46.
Expedition 45/46 crew members will include Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov and European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen.
If the British singer reaches the ISS in September as it had been planned, she will become the eighth space tourist in the world.
The pioneer space tourist is US entrepreneur Dennis Tito, who made the flight to the ISS in 2001 for $20 million and spent eight days at the station. The most recent space tourist at the station is Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberte, who spent 11 days at the ISS in 2009 for $40 million.
The only female space tourist so far reaching the ISS is Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American engineer and co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems. Her 12-day stay at the space station in 2006 cost her $20 million.