1st Clown in Space Blasts Off
Billionaire Cirque founder will 'tickle astros' feet,' highlight water crisis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2009 2:37 AM CDT
Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte jokes as he wears a clown nose prior to the launch of a Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, today.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
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(Newser) – Canadian billionaire Guy LaLiberte became the 7th paying tourist—and the first clown—in space when he blasted off early today to the International Space Station on a Soyuz spacecraft. LaLiberte, founder of Cirque de Soliel, says he plans to crack jokes and tickle the other astronauts' feet as well as help raise awareness of the world's drinking water crisis during his stay on the station. He paid $35 million for the ride.

"I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor like the other participants. I’m really the first clown in space,” he told CBC News before blastoff. “But they also understand that the guy behind the nose of a clown is the chief of the Cirque du Soleil. I have a mission in regard to humanitarian cause." LaLiberte will host a multimedia event from the space station highlighting the water crisis next week, featuring terrestrial guests Al Gore and U2.