Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Who Will Take Sarah Brightman’s Place Onboard Soyuz Spacecraft?

Sarah Brightman. Credit: Reuters

After the resignation of British soprano singer Sarah Brightman from her spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS), the question is now who will take the vacant seat onboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft? It may be Brightman’s backup, Japanese entrepreneur Satoshi Takamatsu or Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, recent reports say. "The contract between Roscosmos (Russia's Federal Space Agency) and Space Adventures for the training of space tourist candidates remains in force. Satoshi Takamatsu continues training for the flight," Russia Beyond The Headlines reports. “The final decision regarding Brightman's successor will be taken in the very near future.”

The problem is that Takamatsu has paid only for pre-flight training at the Cosmonaut Training Center. Instead of the Japanese space tourist, a professional Kazakh cosmonaut could be sent into space, according to Meirbek Moldabekov, deputy chairman of the Kazakh Investment and Development Ministry's aerospace committee (Kazcosmos).

"The Russian side has notified us that our cosmonaut may be allowed to fly in September. Sarah Brightman's seat is vacant today. That is why we are considering the possibility of our cosmonaut Aimbetov's flight," Moldabekov said.

An agreement was reached in May between Roscosmos and Kazcosmos to consider sending a Kazakh cosmonaut to the space station. Plans to train Kazakh cosmonauts for flights to the ISS were mulled in 2009, but were postponed because of a global financial crisis.

"Representatives of Kazcosmos are now in Moscow discussing this project, given that the seat fixed for Brightman is now vacant," Moldabekov said.

On May 13, Brightman announced that she is postponing her plans to launch aboard the upcoming Soyuz mission. She said that for personal family reasons her intentions have had to change and she is postponing her cosmonaut training and flight plans at this time.

Media reports suggested that Brightman was to pay about $52 million for the flight.

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