It?s showtime for space tourist Guy Laliberte, thebillionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil who is poised to present the first-everartistic performance from orbit tonight.
Laliberte, an acrobat-turned-spacetourist, plans to read a poetic story from the InternationalSpace Station to spread awareness about water conservations issues. Artistsin 14 cities around the world will participate through a simultaneous webcast.
The two-hour event, called "Moving Stars and Earth forWater," will be broadcast online tonight at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 Oct. 10 GMT) atOnedrop.org and AOL.com.
"I'm very proud today to say that we have a fantasticevent," Laliberte said before launching into space Sept. 30."This artistic mission permits me to raise awareness for the waterissue."
In 2007 Laliberte founded the non-profit ONE DROPFoundation, which aims to fight world poverty by advocating for global accessto clean water.
Laliberte is paying more than $35million to Russia for an 11-day trip to the space station under a dealbrokered by the U.S. firm Space Adventures and Russia?s Federal Space Agency.He is the seventh preson to pay for the multimillion-dollar trek to theorbiting laboratory, but the first professional artist.
Friday's performance will feature a poetic tale writtenespecially for the occasion by Canadian writer Yann Martel, author of"Life of Pi." Former United States Vice President Al Gore, actorMatthew McConaughey, singer Peter Gabriel, actress Salma Hayek, singer Shakira,and the band U2 will take turns reading sections of the poem from locationsaround the world.
"It's going to be a celebrity event - between U2 and AlGore and all the folks that are going to be talking, it's going to be reallyinteresting," Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson told SPACE.com Thursday.
The performance will begin with Laliberte in space, thenrotate through segments in Montreal; Johannesburg/Durban, South Africa; Rio DeJaneiro, Brazil; Paris; Mexico City; New York; Sydney, Australia; London;Marrakech, Morocco; Mumbai, India; Osaka, Japan; Santa Monica, Calif.; Tampa,Fla.; and Moscow. Laliberte recruited a cadre of friends, artists and activiststo help spread the message that Earth's water is scarce and precious.
"The exploration of space has featured a search for placeswhere water can be found," Gore said in a video about the event atOneDrop.org. "And part of what's so beautiful and special about our planetis that we have so much water." But since much of Earth's water is saltwater, the valuable fresh water we have must be protected, he said.
Laliberte?s globe-spanning performance comes just before hisplanned to departure from the International Space Station. He is due to leavethe orbiting laboratory late Saturday and return to Earth alongside two professionalastronauts ? an American and a Russian ? early Sunday.
During his stay on orbit Laliberte has been lightening themood for his fellow spaceflyers by sharing practical jokes and red clown nosesfor everyone to wear.
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