Soprano singer Sarah Brightman is planning a trip to space on a Russian craft, and says the visit has been years in the making.
While she's been preparing for a visit to the International Space Station for months, she says she's actually been dreaming of making such a voyage since she was young; the topic of space and interplanetary travel has been highlighted in her music for years.
"This extraordinary voyage has been many months in the planning but more accurately, has been many years in the making," she said. "Throughout most of my life, I felt an incredible desire to take the journey to space that I have now begun...as a small and incredulous child, I watched a man bound gently from the steps of a rocket ship and land on the surface of the moon. This really was an adventure, it was something miraculous. For me, it was an epiphany."
While "space tourism" is nothing new--there's been a Russian program to send "spaceflight participants" to the station since around 2001--it certainly hasn't gotten any cheaper. A seat aboard their craft, Soyuz, has in the past cost anywhere from $20 million to $60 million per flight. For the very wealthy, it's a chance to live out a dream, and while that's certainly true for Brightman, she says she also wants to use the trip as a jumping-off point to start a conversation with young females about education in the field of science.
"I'm not an expert in the field of sustainability, but I do understand that tackling poverty is key for us to have any chance of minimizing its impact." she said. "Educating girls is one of the best sustainable investments any of us can make. Girls in poor countries who benefit from education go on to create self-sufficient communities. They invest in their families and improve the lives of those around them. Not surprisingly, we aim to help the cause of educating girls in poor countries. We also want to use this voyage to bring more girls, not just those in poor countries, but from around the world into the educational fold and hopefully enable many of them to further advance into science and technology. It's in everyone's interest to help close the gender gap in the sciences."
For those with the means to travel, space exploration is also a means to look for precious natural resources, which is something director James Cameron is familiar with. He announced in April that he would be teaming with Google execs Eric Schmidt and Larry Page to make the journey into space in order to mine for things like nickel and iron, an idea that has been years in the making and may need more time to develop. Still, scientists say we're not far off from having the tools to do such a thing, and the possibilities are exciting for people like Brightman.
"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," she said.