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The competition heats up: A press conference in Russia highlighted the first day of astronaut training for space tourist Sarah Brightman.
A ten minute video excerpt of the conference is below the fold. The most interesting part of the video, however, has nothing to do with Brightman. Instead, it was what was said by her back-up space tourist, Satoshi Takamatus. Since the age of six he had wanted to be an astronaut. At 22 however Japan’s space agency rejected him because he wore glasses or contacts. He then became an advertising executive who in 2001 arranged to shoot a commercial on ISS using Russian astronauts. While in Russia, he apparently met the right people and, using those contacts, has now come back at 53 as a paying customer. If Brightman has any issues that prevent her from flying, he will step up and replace her. If not, he is tentatively scheduled to fly himself in ’17 or ’18.