Space tourist uses $35M trip to back water issues

Sep 10, 2009 By MANSUR MIROVALEV , Associated Press Writer
Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, center, holds a toy lion he plants to take to the International Space Station as a talisman with his crew mates Canadian billionaire philanthropist Guy Laliberte, left, and U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams, right, during their news conference at Russian Space Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009. The three are the next crew scheduled to blast off to the International Space Station on Sept. 30. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

(AP) -- The next paying traveler to the international space station wants to use his $35 million trip to highlight concerns about the world's water supply.

Guy Laliberte, the Canadian billionaire founder of the Cirque du Soleil, said Thursday that he aims to read a statement to the world about the planet's water problems after taking a Russian rocket to the space station.

"I'm bringing a text that will be delivered to planet Earth ... for creating awareness about the water situation on Earth," Laliberte told reporters at the Russian astronaut training center near Moscow.

He said his reading from space will be part of several shows in 14 cities around the world beginning Oct. 9. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, pop singer Peter Gabriel and Irish rockers U2 have also said they are participating in the event.

Laliberte and two others will blast off Sept. 30 from the Russian space program's launch facility in Kazakhstan.

His crewmates, however, said the items they will bring aboard the will be more personal.

Russian astronaut Maxim Surayev is bringing a plush toy lion that will hang in front of him after takeoff to signal the beginning of weightlessness. His preteen daughters kept the toy under their pillows to "make sure that the lion smells of home for the next six months."

U.S. astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams, a two-time space traveler, said he will have a picture of his family and infant grandson born only a month ago.

Williams and Surayev plan to stay in orbit for 169 days, while Laliberte will return to Earth after 12 days in space. Last week, Laliberte said he would try to persuade his fellow spacemen to don red clown noses; he is taking nine of them into orbit.

Williams said the team will complete the assembly of the space station.

"As we transition into the full realization of the space station, the results will enable us to go beyond and leave the orbit," he said.

The station's on-orbit construction began in 1998, and six shuttle flights remain to wrap it up. The station has already become the largest artificial satellite, weighing more than 710,000 pounds (322,000 kilograms) and orbiting the at 220 miles (354 kilometers) high.

The station has cost more than $100 billion, paid by the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the 18-nation European Space Agency.

Laliberte will likely be among the last private visitors to the space station for a few years as NASA retires its shuttle program and turns to the Russian space agency to ferry U.S. astronauts to the space station, crowding out places for tourists.

Laliberte has a 95 percent stake in Cirque du Soleil, a circus arts and theater performance company that turned 25 this year.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Circus performer's flight preview steals NASA show

Jul 23, 2009

(AP) -- A former stiltwalker and fire-eater stole NASA's show Thursday, saying he'll be "like a kid in a candy store" experimenting with zero-gravity tricks on his upcoming tourist trip to the international ...

Russian cargo spacecraft nearing ISS

Jun 17, 2005

MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- A Russian cargo spacecraft has been launched into orbit successfully and will reach the International Space Station Saturday, Russian space officials said.

Expedition 13 Launched From Baikonur

Mar 30, 2006

Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Jeff Williams began their mission Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. EST. They launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Joining ...

Cargo spacecraft lost in Pacific Ocean

Jun 16, 2005

KOROLEV, Russia, June 16 (UPI) -- A Russian cargo spacecraft disengaged from the International Space Station, left orbit and sank in the Pacific Ocean, the Russian Itar-Tass news agency said.

Canada's Cirque du Soleil chief heads for the stars

Jun 04, 2009

Guy Laliberte, the larger-than-life Canadian entrepreneur behind the Cirque du Soleil phenomenon, announced Thursday he would fulfil a childhood dream by becoming the seventh space tourist.

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

9 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

9 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

10 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...