Sarah Brightman is an amazingly successful singer, especially for someone in the “classical crossover” ghetto, which is, practically by design, too commercial and bland for most classical fans and too alien to many fans of popular music. Regardless, she’s a talented singer, and, by far, her biggest accomplishment has been originating the role of Christine in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, a musical that’s so successful, it’s been running constantly on both the West End and Broadway since before I was born. Except, now, it looks like she’s got another musical milestone coming: she’ll be the first professional musician to perform live in space.
She is currently preparing for a ten-day flight on Soyuz to the International Space Station. The trip will cost somewhere in the area of $52 million; roughly $5.2 million per day.
According to Space Adventures president Tom Shelley: “She’s absolutely 100% committed. She’s putting together her mission plan now.” She would be the eighth person Space Adventures has sent into space, and will fly in September 2015. Training will begin sometime this autumn, and, not only that, but she plans to do a concert from space, making her the first professional musician to sing from space.
Now for a brief and almost certainly incomplete history of musicians in space:
- In 1986, Ron McNair, physicist and friend of Jean-Michel Jarre went on board the Challenger with his saxophone, planning to record a special piece for Jarre in orbit. Unfortunately, 73 seconds into the journey, the shuttle blew up.
- In 2002, Lance Bass of NSYNC was selected to go into space on Soyuz. Unfortunately, he was found to have a heart condition and funding fell through when people worried he may have a real chance of dying during his journey.
- In 2013, Chris Hadfield, commander of the ISS, not only performed a duet with Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson, but also filmed a music video for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
- Around the same time, Bob Geldof announced he intended to be the first professional musician and the first Irishman in space. This has yet to happen, but he intends to not sing any songs in space.
So, simply put, this is a big deal. However, Sarah Brightman might not be the first singer in space. Lady Gaga has announced that she intends to board a flight on a Virgin Galactic flight next year and perform one song. That said, given that Brightman plans to stay on a 10-day trip and that Virgin Galactic has shown hardly any results in the ten years it’s been hyped, it’s safe to say that even if Gaga does it first, it’s likely Sarah Brightman will hold the longest concert in space history. At least until Metallica does its inevitable ISS concert.