The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

World's biggest selling soprano Sarah Brightman books a trip to space

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MOSCOW - Sarah Brightman, the world's biggest selling soprano, says she has booked a trip to the International Space Station.

Brightman, who had a hit in 1978 with "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper," will become the first recording artist in space.

The British singer said Wednesday that after touring the world in 2013 for her new album, Dreamchaser, she will spend six months in Russia's Star City cosmonaut training centre.

Brightman, a UNESCO ambassador, said the trip would also serve as a way to promote the UN agency's message, in particular by encouraging women's education in the sciences and environmental awareness.

She hinted at the possibility of doing a promotional "space concert."

Brightman teamed up Space Adventures, a company that organizes trips for private space explorers.

The first leg of her world tour kicks off in Canada next January — and Brightman says there's a reason for that.

She told The Canadian Press it was one of the first countries that picked up on her when she started out as a solo recording artist.

"It's dear to my heart and also my grandfather on my mother's side and my great-grandparents made the journey across to Saskatchewan and they lived there as farmers," she said in an interview from Moscow.

"So I kind of feel very much a connection to Canada."

Brightman added she's sure she still has other relatives living in Canada.

The international star will be playing in a number of Canadian cities during her tour.

Cirque du soleil founder Guy Laliberte was the last space tourist to visit the space station, in 2009, but Brightman hasn't yet discussed his experience with him.

But she said she's already spoken with Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist, who flew in September 2006.

No date has been set for her space odyssey to the International Space Station, but Brightman said she's looking at between late 2014 and early 2015.

While she would not say how much the trip on a Russian Soyuz will cost, she said "part of it will be coming from myself."

One U.S. TV station said she had paid $51 million to secure her place.

It was estimated that Laliberte paid $US35 million for his round trip to the space station in 2009.

Brightman said the total cost of her voyage would eventually be revealed, but "it's confidential at this time."

— With files from Peter Rakobowchuk of The Canadian Press in Montreal

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