June 4, 2009 in Nation/World

Cirque founder to be next tourist in space

Associated Press
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MONTREAL – Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte is set to become Canada’s first space tourist when he travels on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in September.

Chantal Cote, a spokeswoman for the circus troupe, confirmed the trip Wednesday but would not provide further details before a press conference today.

The 49-year-old Laliberte will become the seventh private citizen to visit the orbiting space lab since April 2001.

Past visits by paying space tourists have lasted anywhere from a week to 13 days. A trip aboard a Soyuz spacecraft is estimated to cost at least $25 million.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the circus’s founding by Laliberte and fellow street performers, who revitalized the circus industry by replacing traditional animal acts with acrobats, dance and live music.

The Montreal-based circus has since grown into a sprawling global organization with $700 million in sales and more than 10 million spectators a year – and has helped Laliberte build a personal fortune estimated at $2.5 billion.

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