British singer Sarah Brightman announced in Moscow on Wednesday that she will blast off next year as a space tourist to the International Space Station (ISS) in a voyage aimed at "realising dreams".
The soprano and crossover singer, 52, known for her roles in West End musicals such as
"The Phantom of the Opera", would be the first tourist to go into space after a hiatus in the space tourism programme since 2009.
"I am planning to become a space flight participant," Brightman told a news conference in Moscow. The schedule for her flight "will be determined very shortly by (Russian space agency) Roscosmos and the ISS partners," she added.
Brightman added she had been approved medically and will do six months training in Russia.
The commercial flights to the ISS for space tourists are organised through US-based company Space Adventures, whose chairman Eric Anderson accompanied Brightman in Moscow.
"My journey is about realising aims and dreams," Brightman said, playing up her role as a UNESCO artist for peace and raising the possibility that she might "sing a song from space".
"This voyage is a product of a dream, my dream. Finally it can be a reality. I am more excited about this than anything I have done in my life to date."
Alexei Krasnov, head of human spaceflight at Roscosmos, said that the task of taking Brightman into space is "fully achievable in the nearest future" and confirmed that she had no medical problems.
The space tourism flights are expected to resume in 2013.
Previous space tourists visiting the ISS on a total of eight trips have included the Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, and Iranian-American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, so far the only woman.
Russia stopped taking space tourists in 2009 because of lack of room in its cramped three-person Soyuz space capsules that ferry astronauts to the ISS.
But Space Adventures said last year that it had signed a deal with the Russian space agency for three commercial passengers to book seats to the ISS per year as Russia plans to increase the number of Soyuz flights.
The last space tourist was Laliberte, who returned to Earth in October 2009 after an 11-day flight.
The first space tourist, Denis Tito, travelled to the ISS in 2001. All together, seven space tourists have taken part in missions.
Laliberte did not reveal the cost of his ticket, but his predecessor, US software pioneer Charles Simonyi, paid $35 million for his trip.
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