Canadian Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, is set to become the next space tourist.
The first ever widely acknowledged artistic performance from space will be broadcast from the International Space Station on Oct. 9.
Orchestrated by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Lalibert?, who is set to launch to the station as a space tourist Sept. 30, the event will feature artists performing from 14 cities around the world, as well as Lalibert? broadcasting from space.
Lalibert? described the event, called "Moving Stars and Earth for Water," as a "poetic social mission" to communicate the importance water has for the planet and its people.
Scientists have warned that water shortages rank with energy and food issues around the globe as top governmental issues now and in the future.
Global million-dollar effort
The Canadian acrobat is due to fly along with two professional astronauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Lalibert? booked his trip with the Russian Federal Space Agency through the U.S. firm Space Adventures, which usually charges about $30 million for the excursions. Laliberte is set to stay aboard the International Space Station for about 12 days.
In addition to founding Cirque du Soleil, Lalibert? started the ONE DROP Foundation, which aims to fight poverty in the world by working to provide clean water to everyone.
"This artistic mission will permit me to raise awareness for [the] water issue," Lalibert? said Wednesday in a press conference. "I believe through art and emotion we can convey a universal message."
The artistic event is planned to be broadcast simultaneously on Oct. 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET (0000 GMT) on huge screens in 14 cities, as well as online at Onedrop.org and Aol.com. A cadre of personalities, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Peter Gabriel, Shakira, and U2, are set to perform from Montreal, Moscow, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Marrakesh, Sydney, Tokyo, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and London, as well as the U.S. cities New York, Santa Monica, and Tampa.
Lalibert? has been working with various artists on a poetic fairy tale that will tell about the importance of water through the perspective of four characters: a star, the moon, the sun and a drop of water.
During the event, artists in each city will read part of the tale, as well as perform in other ways. Lalibert? will also read from space coordinate the worldwide events.
"People should see that as a moment where the voices of the world are unifying in a specific moment and participating at an event together to talk about water," he said. "This is a moment of great friendship, of great artistic rendering, I believe, and hopefully this artistic project will touch people."
Though Lalibert? is spending millions of dollars on this project, he said he thinks it's worth it.
"The space community is excited about this project," he said. "We're building up a global event. I don?t know what will be the end result, but so far, so good, and we're very, very happy."
Training for months
Lalibert? has been training for moths alongside professional spaceflyers in Russia's Star City for his mission. Soon he and his crewmates, Russian Cosmonaut Maksim Surayev and NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, will fly to Baikonur and enter quarantine in advance of their launch. Surayev and Williams are due to take up long-term residence on the space station as Expedition 21 crewmembers.
"I'm starting to get some butterflies inside me flying around," Lalibert? said. "I'm starting to get the little buzz of going up there."
Laliberte, 50, is married and has five children. He said traveling to space has been a dream of his since he was a young boy watching men land on the moon for the first time.
"This whole thing is so much a privilege," Lalibert? said."This is a fairly tale for me."
Lalibert? is due to become the seventh private explorer to journey to space. The last space tourist to fly was Charles Simonyi, a Hungarian software executive who made his second trip to the space station in March, also brokered through Space Adventures.
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