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Kazakhstan

Clown launched without a pratfall

October 01, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Canadian circus tycoon Guy Laliberte turned space into his big tent, boarding a Russian rocket and lifting off on a mission that mixes a serious message on water shortages with clowning around in the cosmos.

Laliberte, an experienced fire-eater and stilt-walker who founded Cirque du Soleil, joined Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev and American astronaut Jeffrey Williams aboard a Soyuz craft that soared off the Kazakh steppe and set a course for the International Space Station.

The billionaire who calls himself the first clown in space paid a reported $35 million for his nine-day stay at the station, where he plans to publicize the world's growing shortage of clean water.

His space extravaganza will culminate in a satellite linkup with shows in 14 cities across five continents.

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