MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. An inter-departmental commission is expected in late May to approve a candidate for the flight to the ISS onboard the Soyuz spacecraft instead of British singer Sarah Brightman, a source in the rocket and space sector said on Monday.
"The regular inter-departmental commission is expected to hold its meeting in late May. It will confirm the third crew member of the September launch, and also approve the crews for March and May 2017," the source said.
Two options to replace Brightman are being considered now - another space tourist or a Russian cosmonaut without flight experience. "I would not shrug off [the option of] a space tourist," the source said.
Another candidate is cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev who previously flew Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers. His flight to space is planned for September 2017.
"Now Prokopyev is actively being called up for various commissions which may signal that he could occupy the third seat in the Soyuz," the source added.
Last week, Brightman announced that she had to delay her flight to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for September for "personal family reasons."
The singer expressed her gratitude to Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, Energia, GCTC [Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center], Star City, NASA and all the cosmonauts and astronauts, "for their support during this exciting time in her life."
Media reports said her seat in the Soyuz would be occupied by Russian billionaire Filaret Galchev. Brightman’s backup pilot is the Japanese astronaut Satoshi Takamatsu.