MOSCOW (AP) — Sarah Brightman's voice, beloved by audiences and renowned for its three-octave range, rocketed to fame more than two decades ago as the heroine of "The Phantom of the Opera." Now the world's biggest-selling soprano is heading to outer space.
On Wednesday, Brightman told a news conference in Moscow that she has booked a trip to the International Space Station. Brightman, who had a hit in 1978 with "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" and has sold more than 30 million records, will become the first recording artist in space.
The British singer said that after touring the world in 2013 for her new album, Dreamchaser, she will spend six months in Russia's Star City cosmonaut training center.
"I think of myself not just as a dreamer, but as a dream chaser," she said.
Brightman, a UNESCO ambassador, said the trip would also serve as a way to promote the U.N. agency's message, by encouraging women's education in the sciences and environmental awareness. She hinted at the possibility of doing a promotional "space concert."
She wouldn't give a precise time for her mission, but Alexei Krasnov, the head of manned programs at the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said she would likely make it in the fall of 2015.
Krasnov said the price tag for the flight was in "tens of millions of dollars," but refused to name a precise figure.
Brightman teamed up with the private company Space Adventures, which organizes trips for private space explorers. When questioned about the expense of the journey, Eric Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures, wouldn't give a figure but joked that "it's a round-trip flight."
Previous flights have cost the adventurous travellers over $20 million each, according to several of the participants.
The cost should be of little concern for Brightman, who has grossed millions of dollars from her tours and albums. Brightman, ex-wife of Broadway playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber, said in a 2008 interview with the Guardian that she had offered to return the money she won in their divorce settlement, worth 6 million pounds.
Brightman will be the eighth private space explorer to take such a journey. Most other participants lacked Brightman's fame.
"I think she is a natural candidate," Anderson said, "somebody whose entire career revolves around inspiring people and communicating messages and really inspiring emotion. ... When they come back they can really share that experience with a much broader set of the public."
Wednesday's announcement came despite Russia's announcement in 2010 that it was halting space tourism for lack of free seats on its Soyuz capsules. The Soyuz have become the only means of ferrying crews to the international space station since NASA put its shuttles out of business last year.