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Cirque du Soleil founder going to space: spokesman

Born in Quebec, Guy Laliberte is now estimated to be worth 2.5 billion dollars, and is ranked 261st richest man in the world by Forbes magazine.
by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) June 3, 2009
The Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil will voyage to the International Space Station in September, a Cirque spokesman said Wednesday, confirming reports he would fly into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket.

Guy Laliberte, 49, "will be the first private Canadian space explorer to voyage into space on a philanthropic mission," the spokesman told AFP.

The Canadian Space Agency is to hold a press conference at its Montreal headquarters on Thursday, while simultaneously space tour operator Space Adventures presents the newest rocketman in Moscow.

Laliberte is to join the crew of a Soyuz space ship for a September launch to the International Space Station, becoming the seventh space tourist to rocket into orbit.

Private citizens are charged 20 million dollars for such space trips, plus another 15 million dollars if they wish to step outside their capsule for a brisk space walk, according to Canadian media.

A former street performer, Laliberte in 1984 turned a small acrobatic troupe into a global entertainment empire that now employs 4,000 people and generates 800 million dollars in ticket and merchandise sales annually.

Born in Quebec, he is now estimated to be worth 2.5 billion dollars, and is ranked 261st richest man in the world by Forbes magazine.

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