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Kazakh cosmonaut ready to fly to ISS after British space tourist drops out

May 26, 2015, 19:36 UTC+3 ASTANA
An agreement was reached in May between Russia’s space agency and Kazcosmos to consider sending a Kazakh cosmonaut to the space station
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© EPA/TASS/SERGEI ILNITSKY

ASTANA, May 26. /TASS/. Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov is ready to replace British singer Sarah Brightman, who postponed her plans to travel to the International Space Station as a space tourist, a top official at the Kazakh National Aerospace Committee Kazcosmos said on Tuesday.

The deputy chairman of Kazcosmos, Meirbek Moldabekov, said plans to train cosmonauts for flights to the International Space Station were mulled in 2009, but were postponed because of a global financial crisis.

"But a scientific program was developed then, and it can now be carried out," Moldabekov said, adding that cosmonauts had been trained as well.

He said an agreement was reached in May between Russia’s Roscosmos space agency and Kazcosmos to consider sending a Kazakh cosmonaut to the space station.

"Representatives of Kazcosmos are now in Moscow discussing this project, given that the seat fixed for Brightman is now vacant," Moldabekov said.

"Sarah Brightman announced today that she is postponing her plans to launch aboard the upcoming Soyuz TMA-18M spaceflight mission," a statement on Brightman’s website said on May 13.

"Ms. Brightman said that for personal family reasons her intentions have had to change and she is postponing her cosmonaut training and flight plans at this time," it said.

"She would like to express her extreme gratitude to [Russian Federal 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," the statement said.

Sarah Brightman’s backup astronaut, Japanese national Satoshi Takamatsu, paid only for pre-flight training at the Cosmonaut Training Center.

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