Sarah Brightman To Be Next Space Tourist

Singer Sarah Brightman is set to blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) as soon as next year in a trip aimed at "realising her dreams".

The 52-year-old, who as part of Hot Gossip hit the charts with I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper in 1978, will be the first tourist to go into space since a hiatus in the space tourism programme since 2009.

"I am planning to become a space flight participant," said Brightman, who has also starred in West End musicals such as The Phantom Of The Opera.

The schedule for her flight will be confirmed shortly, she said, and she is preparing for six months' training in Russia.

Commercial flights to the ISS for space tourists are organised through US-based company Space Adventures, whose chairman Eric Anderson accompanied Brightman at a Moscow news conference.

"My journey is about realising aims and dreams," Brightman said, adding that she might "sing a song from space".

"This voyage is a product of a dream, my dream. Finally it can be a reality. I am more excited about this than anything I have done in my life to date."

Previous space tourists visiting the ISS on a total of eight trips have included the Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, and Iranian-American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, so far the only woman.

Russia stopped taking space tourists in 2009 because of lack of room in its cramped three-person Soyuz space capsules that ferry astronauts to the ISS. 

But Space Adventures said last year that it had signed a deal with the Russian space agency for three commercial passengers to book seats to the ISS each year as Russia plans to increase the number of Soyuz flights.

The flights are expected to resume in 2013.

The first space tourist, Denis Tito, travelled to the ISS in 2001.

A total of seven space tourists have taken part in missions. One of them, US software pioneer Charles Simonyi, paid \$35m for his trip.