MONTREAL – The billionaire founder of famous circus Cirque du Soleil paid $35 million to fly into space!
“Billionaire clown” Guy Laliberte, 50, founded Cirque du Soleil, a Montreal-based circus company that has spun off numerous touring shows. As the 95% share holder of the company, he currently has a net worth of $2.5 billion!
It is no surprise that Laliberte became Canada’s first space tourist this morning, when he took off on board Soyuz TMA-16 to the International Space Station. He was accompanied by U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev.
His partner, former model Claudia Barilla, was initially nervous about his trip but ultimately agreed to it. She wore a yellow clown nose as she and other friends sang Elton John’s “Rocket Man” during Laliberte’s take-off.
Laliberte plans to use his trip to help publicize the world’s growing shortage of clean water. He will arrive at the space station on Friday, and return to Earth 12 days later.
There have been only six previous self-funded space tourists. They have all been multimillionaire or billionaire entrepreneurs. The Russian Space Agency is the only one to allow citizens to buy passage, however a number of start-up companies are attempting to create a space tourism industry.