Spaceflight Insider

Who will take Sarah Brightman’s place onboard Soyuz spacecraft?

British singer Sarah Brightman poses for the media following a press conference in London on March 10.

British singer Sarah Brightman poses for the media following a press conference in London on March 10. Image Credit: Andy Rain/EPA

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. However, given the recent turmoil within Roscosmos – it might be neither.

Satoshi Takamatsu Japanese space tourist

Satoshi Takamatsu. Photo Credit: Youtube

“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 reported. “The final decision regarding Brightman’s successor will be taken in the very near future.”

The problem is that Takamatsu has, at present, has only paid for pre-flight training at the Cosmonaut Training Center.

If Takamatsu cannot meet the financial requirements, a professional Kazakh cosmonaut could be sent into space. This is 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 the global financial crisis.

Aidyn Aimbetov.

Aidyn Aimbetov. Photo Credit: Kazcosmos

“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.

It is unclear what part, if any, the multiple failures that various Russian boosters and spacecraft have encountered recently might have impacted Brightman’s decision. Both Roscosmos and NASA have had to adjust future flights to the orbiting laboratory as the issues with the Soyuz booster and Progress spacecraft are investigated.



Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

Reader Comments


If there isn’t a reliable spacecraft available to resupply the ISS, there won’t be anyone going into space. Space-flight was meant to enrich the lives of all peoples on this planet, not the über-rich or those with commercial motives!

Um SpaceX has delivered sucessfully 7 Dragon Missions 6 under the Commercial Cargo initiative. Japan still sends up cargo and so does ESA. So They still get the cargo they need. Just not from Russia atm.

Bad situation all round. Looks like ISS will be reliant on Soyuz well past 2018 unless political compromise in the U.S. Congress is reached. Now it appears poor standard of quality control in Russian aerospace industry is cropping up more often than not. There might not be a space station to resupply or even to offer a spare seat to wannabe space flight participants if those Russian carrier rockets are fatally unreliable. JSC, KSC and HQ must be fearing another bad day, and with a presidential election looming in 18 months NASA HSF is in even more peril.

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