In this corner, British soprano Sarah Brightman, who is paying $52 million to fly to the International Space Station in September 2015.
And in the other corner, the always interesting and frequently controversial Lady Gaga, scheduled to blast into space aboard Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo as part of the Zero G Colony music festival in early 2015.
Wait? What? How could Brightman get there first if Gaga is flying earlier?
Brightman’s trip looks pretty set. It has been arranged by Space Adventures, which has already sent eight millionauts to the station on nine different voyages aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. (Charles Simonyi flew twice.) Brightman is already in training, and barring anything unusual happening, the mission should take place as scheduled in September 2015. After she arrives, she plans to sing in space.
Lady Gaga’s plans are not quite as certain. Zero G Colony announced itself to the world in November as a three-day “galactic music experience” combining the best of today’s artists with high technology. It is to take place at Spaceport America in New Mexico early next year, and feature a suborbital flight by Lady Gaga aboard SpaceShipTwo.
That was seven months ago. There’s been precious little news about the festival since then. The event’s website consists of a single page with an email signup for updates and links to the festival’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Those pages, in turn, show no activity whatsoever since the initial announcement.
This is quite odd. Given the cost of staging a three-day music festival, you would think the organizers would be promoting the hell out of it. Especially since it is now less than a year away. Double especially if the event involves Branson’s Virgin Group, which promotes the hell out of everything.
There’s also the question of whether SpaceShipTwo will be ready for commercial flights by early 2015. Test flights are set to resume sometime this summer, with commercial operations set to begin when Branson and his two children fly. Virgin Galactic is hoping to accomplish all these things by the end of 2014, but the schedule is very tight. Probably too tight.
We’ll see what happens. If I was a gambler, I’d put everything on Brightman.