The former Hot Gossip performer, now the world’s biggest-selling soprano, has signed up with the Russian government space agency, Roscosmos, for a ten-day voyage that will take her more 160 times around the Earth on a 3.8 million-mile odyssey.
The trip, set to take place in 2014 or 2015, has cost her the bulk of her estimated £30 million fortune, though it will be preceded by an album and tour. She has undertaken gruelling physical tests that included spinning in a centrifuge at 170mph, withstanding eight times the force of gravity, and will spend six months training as a cosmonaut at Roscosmos’s Star City complex, outside Moscow.
Brightman, 52, announced her plans yesterday. She will be only the eighth civilian to travel into orbit as a private paying passenger, fulfilling an ambition that began when she watched Neil Armstrong plant mankind’s first footprints on the Moon in 1969.
“Throughout most of my life, I felt an incredible desire to make a journey to space,” she said in Moscow. “If I keep tracking back, my thoughts immediately come to rest on a flickering television screen in 1969.
“There, as a small and incredulous child, I watched a man bound gently from the steps of a rocket ship and step on the Moon. For me, it was an epiphany. From that moment, I began looking into the future.”
Her plans underline the increasing commercialisation of the ISS, which was yesterday the scene of the first ever cargo delivery in space made by a private company, SpaceX. The company’s robotic cargo capsule, Dragon, arrived with 1,000lbs (543kg) of supplies and equipment, plus a small treat – a tub of ice-cream for the ISS crew.
Through her partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Brightman will use her time aboard the ISS to promote world peace and sustainable development, and speak about the value of educating and empowering girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“The passions and goals that we have should never be set aside no matter how far-fetched or fanciful they may appear to be … I don’t think of myself as a dreamer, rather a dream-chaser,” she said, adding that she hopes to broadcast a song from space.
Brightman, from Hertfordshire, began her career with Hot Gossip in the late 1970s, then moved into West End and Broadway musicals, rising to prominence in productions such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, and marrying music impresario
Andrew Lloyd Webber. They divorced in 1990, after six years of marriage.
Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures – the US company that brokered Brightman’s trip and those of all seven previous “space tourists”, who paid up to $35m (£21.8m) apiece – refused to reveal the price tag on her trip.
“That’s confidential,” he said. “But it is a round-trip ticket.”