MOSCOW - No definitive decision has yet been made on whether British singer Sarah Brightman will fly into space as a tourist, Vladimir Popovkin, director of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), told reporters on Friday.
“I have met with Sarah Brightman. She intends to fly. However, Roscosmos has not made a final decision yet,” Popovkin said.
Commenting on the reasons why no decision has been made yet, Popovkin said: “We need to provide young cosmonauts with flight practice.”
Speaking about when a final decision may be made on the matter, Popovkin said it will happen “in the second half of 2013.”
Sergei Krikalev, the head of the Cosmonaut Training Center, earlier said he does not rule out that British singer Sarah Brightman could have announced her intention to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) to advertise her new album.
“This is not the first time such a situation has arisen. Of course, this information is news to me, but I’m not very surprised. Many years ago there was an option to send one singer into space. He underwent medical selection and there were plans to sign a contract with him. I don’t have precise information on the situation with Sarah Brightman, but such things are probably possible, yes,” Krikalev told Interfax-AVN.
Sources in the space industry earlier told Interfax-AVN that Brightman, who announced her wish to make a tourist flight to the ISS in October, will probably not fly. “It is very probable that the singer said she may fly to the ISS to fuel interest in her year-long world tour, which she will begin next year,” the source said.
Krikalev said he sees space tourism as something unavoidable, but still would like professional cosmonauts to fly into space.
“When there are not enough scientific tasks for experiments in the orbit or there are problems with funding, tourists can partially close this gap. Space tourism may be expedient in terms of cost compensation. However, it cannot be a foundation for space programs,” he said.
A source in the space industry earlier told Interfax-AVN that the fact that a contract with Brightman has not been signed yet, although Roscosmos is now completing crew compilation for the Soyuz spacecraft and ISS missions for 2015, is in favor of the advertising trick theory. The singer announced that her flight will take place in 2015.
Brightman will have turned 55 by that time, which means she will become one of the 20 oldest cosmonauts of the world, among which there is now only one woman (Barbara Morgan, who made a shuttle flight in 2007).