Circus founder is next space tourist

The first circus act in space is being trained up to visit the International Space Station. Fire-eater and stilt-walker Guy Laliberté, founder of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, will fly on a Russian ship as a space tourist in September.

International Space Station with Jules Verne attachedHe has begun training with cosmonauts at Star City, near Moscow, for a 12-day trip organised by Space Adventures that will cost him around $20 million.

Canadian Guy, 49, who also plays the accordion and is a skilled poker player, created his circus in 1984. Two years ago, he set up a charity, the One Drop Foundation to fight poverty around the world by providing sustainable access to safe water.

He said yesterday: “Travelling has always been my way of life and I have been researching the possibilities of space travel with Space Adventures since 2004. But I needed it to be the right time and for the right purpose.

“This is the time. And the purpose is clear: to raise awareness on water issues to humankind on planet earth. My mission is dedicated to making a difference on this vital resource by using what I know best: artistry.”

Guy will certainly not be allowed to breathe fire on board the space station. And he probably will not be allowed to take his accordion, the other astronauts may be relieved to hear.

He will be joining the Soyuz TMA-16 crew that includes Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev and NASA astronaut Jeffery Williams. The launch is scheduled for September 30, 2009.

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Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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