Famed classical singer Sarah Brightman could be the next tourist to visit space as a paying passenger, ABC News is reporting.
The singer may have paid more than $51 million to the Russian Federal Space Agency for a seat on a spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, according to ABC News.
Space Adventures, the Virginia-based firm reportedly brokering the deal, has not confirmed that Brightman will be flying in space. However, company officials said Brightman would make a "groundbreaking announcement" during a press conference in Moscow Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. Moscow time (8 a.m. EDT). Space Adventures has arranged the trips of the seven other space tourists who've flown to the space station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Brightman, who gained fame starring in the original Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera," will reportedly make her 10-day trip to low-Earth orbit in 2014 or 2015, according to ABC News.
With NASA's space shuttles now retired, Russian Soyuz spacecraft are the only vehicles currently able to carry people to the space station. As a result, open seats available for tourists have been scarce in recent years. The most recent paying passenger on a Soyuz was Canadian Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, who flew in 2009.
However, NASA and Russia recently announced that astronauts and cosmonauts would begin serving out yearlong missions on the space station, as opposed to the six-month stints that have been de rigueur. That move is likely what opened up the spot for Brightman.
Still, she must pay more than similar tourist jaunts have cost in the past. Laliberte paid about $35 million, and the first space tourist, American investor Dennis Tito, forked over a relatively modest $20 million when he flew in 2001.
Russian Soyuz vehicles are the only spacecraft that have flown space tourists so far. NASA has never sold seats on its space shuttles to civilians, and the handful of suborbital space tourism outfits, such as California-based Virgin Galactic, are still ramping up toward launching their first passengers. Those trips will last only a few hours, and offer just about five minutes of weightlessness, for lower price tags around $200,000.