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After a delay due to family illness, British singer Sarah Brightman began months of preparation on Monday at Russia's Star City cosmonaut training center for a 10-day, $52 million trip to the International Space Station.

The 54-year-old soprano, best known for her role in "The Phantom of the Opera," was originally slated to start training for her September flight last week, but Russian space official Alexey Krasnov told the Itar-Tass news service that the initial sessions were postponed due to "family reasons." Brightman reportedly paid a visit to her ailing mother in Britain. Earlier reports suggested that the singer herself had caught a cold.

Itar-Tass quoted the training center's press service as saying Brightman plans to "sing onboard the station to the accompaniment of an orchestra on Earth" during her space trip. Brightman's backup, Japanese entrepreneur Satoshi Takamatsu, is in Russia for training as well. Just don't expect him to hit the high notes in "Music of the Night" if Brightman has to bow out.

Image: Sarah Brightman
British singer Sarah Brightman speaks during a news conference Monday at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside Moscow. Brightman is expected to fly to the International Space Station in a Soyuz spacecraft with Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen in October.AFP / Getty Images



— Alan Boyle