MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. Cosmonaut Training Center’s interdepartmental commission has approved Kazakhstani cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov as participant of flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in place of British singer Sarah Brightman, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS on Monday.
"Aimbetov was included on the list of the short-term expedition to ISS by a decision of interdepartmental commission. Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev was selected as his back-up," the source said.
Japanese entrepreneur Satoshi Takamatsu, who has been training as a backup for British singer Sarah Brightman for a flight to the ISS will continue preparing for an expedition that may take place in the next 2-4 years, said US-based Space Adventures, a privately owned firm that is arranging trips to the station.
According to a statement published on Monday on the company’s website, Takamatsu has signed a contract for a future orbital spaceflight mission.
"Since January, Satoshi has been in spaceflight training as a member of the Soyuz TMA-18M backup crew and we are proud of the work that he has accomplished thus far," Tom Shelley, president of Space Adventures, was quoted as saying.
"Based on his decision to plan for a future space mission, he has stepped down from the backup crew. He is continuing his training to be certified as a ‘fully-trained spaceflight participant cosmonaut’ that will convey toward his qualification for a future flight to the International Space Station," Shelley said. "We hope that he realizes his dream of launching to space in the next 2-4 years."
Russian businessman Filaret Galchev, one of contenders for a space flight, does not reject the idea of flying to ISS, but understands that he is not yet ready for such travel in the nearest future due to insufficient physical training and preparation.
Roscosmos space agency head Igor Komarov told TASS earlier that Brightman, who refused to fly to ISS, will be replaced in the nearest future. Among the main contenders to fly to space on Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft were Aimbetov, Galchev and Russian cosmonaut Prokopyev, who has not yet had space flight experience.
The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will be launched from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on September 1. Aimbetov will be accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov and European astronaut Andreas Mogensen.