Canadian circus billionaire Guy Laliberte blasted off in a Russian Soyuz spaceship from Kazakhstan on Wednesday to become the world’s seventh space tourist.
The 50-year-old former fire-breather and founder of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil paid more than $35 million for the privilege of flying to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppe.
The Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft blasted into clear blue skies at 0714 GMT. “He’s just said ‘Super!’, he’s very happy,” Russian cosmonaut and crew member Maxim Suraev said of Laliberte.
The Canadian gave the thumbs-up as a toy lion belonging to Suraev’s daughter bounced from a string in the capsule.
The three-man crew was due to dock with the International Space Station two days later.
He plans to take nine clown noses into orbit and hold a performance broadcast live on the Internet on www.onedrop.org on October 9, linking 14 cities across the world to underline the importance of access to water.