A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.


Roscosmos: No Immediate Plans to Send Tourists to ISS

Dennis Tito

A top Russian space official has warned not to expect a resumption of space tourist flights to the International Space Station any time soon.

Russia’s Roscosmos state corporation has no plans to send space tourists to the country’s segment of the International Space Station (ISS) before 2020, Roscosmos deputy director general for international cooperation told Sputnik in an interview.

“As for sending tourists to the Russian segment of the ISS, Roscosmos has no plans to implement such flights before 2020 because of the absence of the relevant capabilities,” Sergey Savelyev said.

He added that space tourism was not limited by ISS-related projects and Russia’s corporation was interested in attracting tourists.

Seven space tourists made eight visits to ISS during the 2000’s, beginning with Dennis Tito in 2001 and ending with Guy Laliberte in 2009. The most recent attempt to send a tourist to the station fell through when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out of a planned trip in 2015.

Who Will Become the World’s First Commercial Spaceline?

New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)
New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)

With Blue Origin’s successful re-flight of its reusable New Shepard booster and capsule on Friday, the company jumped ahead in the competition to fly people into space on a commercial basis.


Sarah Brightman Replaced By Kazaknaut

Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft berthed at International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft berthed at International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

This is a bit of a letdown, going from international recording star Sarah Brightman singing on orbit to Kazakhstan’s third ever space traveler:

Kazakhstan’s third ever cosmonaut is set to replace would-be space tourist Sarah Brightman, a British singer who recently backed out of a $52 million seat aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft blasting off in September.

Russian federal space agency Roscosmos confirmed on its official Twitter account Monday that Kazakh cosmonaut candidate Aidyn Aimbetov would be the third man on the short 10-day flight to the International Space Station….

Aimbetov’s journey to space began in 2003, when the Kazakh government began grooming him and another homegrown hopeful for a mission to the ISS. In 2007, the two were sent to Russia for training under Roscosmos’ tutelage, but funding cuts at Kazcosmos grounded them in 2009.

Sarah Brightman Drops Out of Space Tourism Flight to ISS

Satoshi_Takamatsu and Sarah Brightman (far right) meet the media. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Satoshi_Takamatsu and Sarah Brightman (far right) meet the media. (Credit: Roscosmos)

British soprano Sarah Brightman has dropped out of a planned trip this fall to the International Space Station citing ” for personal family reasons.” A post on the singer’s website did not elaborate on those reasons.

The announcement comes only weeks after press reports said Brightman would be replaced by her backup, Japanese businessman Satoshi Takamatsu, because she would not be ready in time for the flight. Those reports were denied at the time.

Brightman’s announcement describes the decision as a postponement, indicating that she could fly at a future time aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Because the Soyuz is the only transport system serving the six-person station, there will probably not be another opportunity until 2017 or 2018 when U.S. commercial providers Boeing and SpaceX begin transporting astronauts to ISS.

A Soyuz seat is open this year because a U.S. astronaut and Russian cosmonaut are spending almost one year aboard the station instead of returning to Earth after five to six months. Each three-seat Soyuz spacecraft must be rotated off the ISS every six months.

Roscosmos to Restart Space Tourist Flights to ISS

Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Faced with the loss of a NASA contract to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, Roscosmos plans to restart a program to fly tourists to the orbiting laboratory in 2018:

“We plan compensating for the fall of demand for manned spaceships of the Soyuz family after 2018 by resuming short-term commercial expeditions to the Russian segment of the ISS,” Izvestia daily quoted a quarterly report posted by Energiya space corporation, the federal agency’s main subsidiary in the field of manned orbital flights.


Sarah Brightman to Sing Her Way Round the World

Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman

Soprano Sarah Brightman has teamed up with ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber in an effort to develop  a song she can sing during her 10-day stay aboard the International Space Station in September.

“I have been working on various things,” she said.

“Finding a song that suits the idea of space and something that’s incredibly simple.

“To sing in microgravity is very, very different thing to singing down here. Here, you are grounded, you have the air around you. This is going to be very different.

“I’m trying to find a piece that’s beautiful and simple in its message, and not too complicated to sing.

“I don’t want to say too much because of the complexities, but I’d like to connect with the choir or orchestra on earth.”

Brightman spoke during a press conference in London on Tuesday. She was taking a break from spaceflight training she is undertaking at Star City in Russia.

Brightman will become the eighth tourist to visit the ISS since space tourism began in 2001. One tourist, Charles Simonyi, flew twice. The trips are arranged through U.S.-based Space Adventures.

Sarah Brightman Undergoes Wilderness Survival Training

Sarah Brightman and crew mates undergo wilderness survival training. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Sarah Brightman and crew mates undergo wilderness survival training. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The autonomous training for surviving in a case of emergence landing in marshy-wooded area in the winter will take place since Jan 19 till Feb 9.

Crewmates of ISS crew 48/49: Anatoly Ivanishin (Roscosmos), Takuya Onishi (JAXA), Kathleen Rubins (NASA) and ISS crew 49/50: Sergey Ryzhikov & Andrey Borisenko( Roscosmos), Robert Kimbrough (NASA) and spaceflight participants Sarah Brightman and Satoshi Takamatsu take part in this training.


Brightman & Takamatsu Complete First Day of Cosmonaut Training

Satoshi_Takamatsu and Sarah Brightman (far right) meet the media. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Satoshi_Takamatsu and Sarah Brightman (far right) meet the media. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Today in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) the famous British actress, songwriter and dancer Sarah Brightman and Japanese advertising guru Satoshi Takamatsu began their spaceflight training.


Japanese Space Tourist to Train for Space Station Flight

VIENNA, Va. (Space Adventures PR) —
Today, Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, announced that Satoshi Takamatsu will begin training as an International Space Station (ISS) crew member candidate for a flight on a Soyuz TMA spacecraft. After successful completion of the program, Takamatsu will be certified as a ‘fully-trained spaceflight participant cosmonaut’ and will be the first Japanese private astronaut qualified to visit the ISS.


Sarah Brightman to Begin Space Training Early Next Year

Sarah Brightman

An update on singer Sarah Brightman’s space tourism trip to the International Space Station (ISS) next year:

British famed soprano singer Sarah Brightman would begin pre-flight trainings for her journey to the International Space Station (ISS) as a space tourist early next year, instead of this autumn, Yuri Lonchakov, the head of the Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, said on Wednesday.

“She will begin trainings in the Star City in January of 2015 and therefore we are all waiting for her,” Lonchakov said adding that he believed “her training will be a success.”

Less than three months ago Lonchakov said that the famous singer had already passed a number of medical examination and tests and was ready to begin preparations for the trip to the ISS at the Star City space training facility in the Moscow Region in September or October.

Lonchakov’s earlier statement that Brightman could start her trainings this autumn was also confirmed in June by the president of the US-based company in charge of organizing her trip.

Read the full story.

After Sarah Brightman, Will Sergey Brin Fly to the International Space Station?

Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin could be the next space tourist to journey to the International Space Station.

Space Adventures President Tom Shelley told Reuters that Brin, whose net worth is $30.2 billion, has put down a deposit on a seat aboard a future Soyuz flight to the orbiting laboratory.

“He paid us a deposit and whenever we have a seat available, he has the right of first refusal,” Shelley said.

Shelley said the company could have an open seat in 2017.

Brin and co-founder Larry Page have a deep interest in space. Their company has sponsored the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for the first private company to land a rover on the surface of the moon. This week, Google announced the purchase of Skybox Imaging, which provides images of the Earth from space. The company also is reportedly developing a satellite network to provide high-speed broadband services on a global basis.

Before Brin flies, British soprano Sarah Brightman, will pay $52 million for a 10-day trip to the space station in September 2015. She will be the ninth person to visit ISS as a tourist since Space Adventures sent Dennis Tito there in 2002.  Brightman plans to sing during her orbital trip.

Brightman is in a race with Lady Gaga to be the first professional singer to perform in space. For more on that story, click here.


Lady Gaga vs. Sarah Brightman: Who Will be First (Professional) Musician to Sing in Space?

sarah_brightmanThe battle of singing space divas is on!

In this corner, British soprano Sarah Brightman, who is paying $52 million to fly to the International Space Station in September 2015.

And in the other corner, the always interesting and frequently controversial Lady Gaga, scheduled to blast into space aboard Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo as part of the Zero G Colony music festival in early 2015.

Wait? What? How could Brightman get there first if Gaga is flying earlier?

Good question.