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Air & Space

No astronauts were ‘bumped’ in the making of this space tourist


May 15, 2012: The Soyuz TMA-04M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying Expedition 31 Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA Flight Engineer Joseph Acaba and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin to the International Space Station. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The seats cost $51 million -- and we’re keeping them.

An ABC News report by producer Gina Sunseri claimed opera singer Sarah Brightman outbid NASA for a seat aboard a Soyuz rocket -- and an astronaut was consequently bumped from the rocket ride.

Nonsense, the space agency said.

'Your only option is to bump an astronaut from a seat.'

- ABC News producer Gina Sunseri

“Crews for International Space Station expeditions have been assigned through 2013,” NASA spokesman Joshua Buck told “None of those astronauts has been 'booted' from his or her respective mission.”

Brightman was widely reported to be the next customer of Space Adventures, which first started flying tourists into space on Soyuz rockets in 2001. The company’s first traveler, American investor Dennis Tito, flew in 2001 and paid just $20 million. The most recent space case was Canadian circus-founder Guy Laliberte, who paid $35 million in 2009, according to

ABC News said Brightman would be next, paying an unnamed astronomical sum that was north of the $51 million NASA pays for its seats. Consequently, NASA wouldn’t get one, the news agency said.

“If you want to fly in space, seats are harder to find than a flight out of Chicago's O'Hare airport during a blizzard. So your only option is to bump an astronaut from a seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft going to the International Space Station,” Sunseri wrote.

Clever, but not quite.

“Crews have been assigned through 2013. All of them will be flying during their assigned increment,” Buck said.

Space Adventures did not immediately return calls seeking clarification.