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Big Artistic Performance to Be Set in Space

Acrobat to Be Next Space Tourist
Canadian Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, is set to become the next space tourist.
(Image: © cirquedusoleil.com)

The first ever widely acknowledged artistic performance fromspace will be broadcast from the International Space Station on Oct. 9.

Orchestrated by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Lalibert?, whois set to launch to the station as aspace tourist Sept. 30, the event will feature artists performing from 14cities around the world, as well as Lalibert? broadcasting from space.

Lalibert? described the event, called "Moving Stars andEarth for Water," as a "poeticsocial mission" to communicate the importance water has for the planetand its people.

Scientists have warned that water shortages rank with energyand food issues around the globe as top governmental issues now and in thefuture.

Global million-dollar effort

The Canadian acrobat is due to fly along with twoprofessional astronauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Lalibert? booked his trip with the Russian FederalSpace Agency through the U.S.firm Space Adventures, which usually charges about $30 million for theexcursions. Laliberte is set to stay aboard the InternationalSpace Station for about 12 days.

In addition to founding Cirque du Soleil, Lalibert? startedthe ONE DROP Foundation, which aims to fight poverty in the world by working toprovide clean water to everyone.

"This artistic mission will permit me to raiseawareness for [the] water issue," Lalibert? said Wednesday in a pressconference. "I believe through art and emotion we can convey a universalmessage."

The artistic event is planned to be broadcast simultaneouslyon Oct. 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET (0000 GMT) on huge screens in 14 cities, as well asonline at Onedrop.org and Aol.com. A cadre of personalities, including formerU.S. Vice President Al Gore, Peter Gabriel, Shakira, and U2, are set to performfrom Montreal, Moscow, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Marrakesh, Sydney, Tokyo, MexicoCity, 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 poeticfairy tale that will tell about the importance of water through the perspectiveof four characters: a star, the moon, the sun and a drop of water.

During the event, artists in each city will read part of thetale, as well as perform in other ways. Lalibert? will also read from spacecoordinate the worldwide events.

"People should see that as a moment where the voices ofthe world are unifying in a specific moment and participating at an eventtogether to talk about water," he said. "This is a moment of greatfriendship, of great artistic rendering, I believe, and hopefully this artisticproject will touch people."

Though Lalibert? is spending millions of dollars on thisproject, he said he thinks it's worth it.

"The space community is excited about thisproject," he said. "We're building up a global event. I don?t knowwhat will be the end result, but so far, so good, and we're very, veryhappy."

Training for months

Lalibert? has been training for moths alongside professionalspaceflyers in Russia's Star City for his mission. Soon he and his crewmates,Russian Cosmonaut Maksim Surayev and NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, will flyto Baikonur and enter quarantine in advance of their launch. Surayev and Williamsare due to take up long-term residence on the space station as Expedition 21crewmembers.

"I'm starting to get some butterflies inside me flyingaround," Lalibert? said. "I'm starting to get the little buzz ofgoing up there."

Laliberte, 50, is married and has five children. He saidtraveling to space has been a dream of his since he was a young boy watchingmen 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 seventhprivate explorer to journey to space. The last space tourist to fly was CharlesSimonyi, a Hungarian software executive who made his second trip to the spacestation in March, also brokered through Space Adventures.

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