Singer Sarah Brightman Outbids NASA for Space Tourist's Seat
What's a rich space tourist to do? If you want to fly in space, seats are harder to find than a flight out of Chicago's O'Hare airport during a blizzard. So your only option is to bump an astronaut from a seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft going to the International Space Station.
ABC News has learned that singer Sarah Brightman, of "Phantom of the Opera" fame, will be the next tourist in space, sometime in 2014 or 2015. To get her seat she had to pay the Russian space agency more than the $51 million NASA budgets on average to send its astronauts to the station.
To maintain its presence in orbit when Soyuz seats are limited, NASA had to agree to commit at least one of its astronauts to spend a year in space, instead of the six months they currently stay. Brightman's trip will be announced in Moscow on Oct. 10.
NASA says a year in space has great medical research benefits. Astronauts spending just six months on the space station in the past have suffered from radiation exposure, muscle mass loss, decreased bone density, and vision problems. The research from a year on the space station will help NASA plan for long flights to Mars or an asteroid. It does mean an astronaut will get booted from a flight to adjust for one less seat.