Simanaitis Says

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THE WOMAN loved by the Phantom of the Opera has fallen in love with space tourism. And not just the concept, but the actual thing. Classical crossover/musicial theater soprano Sarah Brightman is in training to spend 10 days aboard the International Space Station.


The International Space Station is in low orbit, about 255 miles above the Earth. Below, the Space Shuttle Endeavor and Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle put ISS size in perspective.


The ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2000. It’s a joint project of five space agencies, the U.S. NASA, Russian Roscosmos, Japanese JAXA, Euro ESA and Canadian CSA.

Astronaut/cosmonaut specialists from 15 countries have been aboard, two of them for a stint of 237 days. (An occupant aboard the earlier Russian MIR holds the record at 437.7 days). In addition, seven space tourists have had visits of eight to fifteen days.


Sarah Brightman twittered these images of her tour of an ISS mockup at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. This and other images from

Serious planning for her ISS visit started two years ago. Sarah, 54, will be there in September, 2015, for a ten-day stint. Colleagues for the trip will be Russian Colonel Sergei Volkov, on his third mission, and Danish flight engineer Andreas Mogensen.


Part of Brightman’s training has involved g-tolerance evaluations aboard this centrifuge at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.

Sarah’s formal preparation is taking place at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia, a Moscow environ also known as Closed Military Townlet No. 1. She’s involved in 16-hour days of classes in weightlessness, centrifuge g-force tests, physical training and four hours a day of Russian language instruction.


Brightman has already undergone winter survival training in a Russian forest. Image from

Sarah is hoping to sing an appropriate song from space and is considering a linkup with an Earthbound choir or children’s chorus. She notes that the ISS environment, its weightlessness for one, challenges the physiology of soprano performance. However, she says she has consulted with other musicians on this, including ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Webber composed the hit musical Phantom of the Opera, in which Brightman starred as Christine Daaé, love interest of the Paris Opera phantom and two others.


Brightman is fitted with space-tourist high fashion. Image from

Brightman says she’s covering the costs of her space adventure, though she defers specifying a total. Others have spent as much as $40 million.

For her, it’s a youthful dream come true. Sarah says “Watching the first man land on the moon—it was an epiphany.” On the day of that event, July 21, 1969, she was nine years old.

Godspeed, Sarah. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015

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