Thursday, July 23, 2009

Apollo 11 Inspired Cirque Du Soleil Space Tourist

Now destined to fly to the International Space Station, the fire-breathing founder of Cirque du Soleil says the historic Apollo 11 moon-landing inspired him to reach for his dreams.

Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte, who is scheduled to launch on a round trip to the station on Sept. 30, told reporters at Johnson Space Center that he remembers being at summer camp when American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Sea of Tranquility 40 years ago this week.

"I don't know how they managed that back then, but there was a black-and-white TV in the middle of the forest, and we could the signal of Apollo 11," said Laliberte, who will become the seventh space tourist to fly to the station.

"Back then I was amazed by the fact that somebody was walking on the moon," he said. "What it triggered in my head as a little kid is, finally, fairy tales are possible to be lived. You know, if I believe in my dreams, in my fairy tale -- in my own fairy tale -- maybe things are possible."

Laliberte related the story because he believes "inspiration is very, very important -- because inspiration and dreams give you some kind of reason to go forward in life. Passion gives you reasons to live."

"And I think it's important to show examples of such things -- toward any type of activities -- circus, entertainment, space exploration, it doesn't matter because what is important to communicate to the generation to come, to our children, is to inspire them to commit to the belief in themselves, building self-esteem, and also believe it contributes to building a better world."

Laliberte booked his travel with the Russian Federal Space Agency through Space Adventures, a company based in Virginia. The going price for a 10-day round trip to the station is reportedly $30 million to $35 million.

An accomplished acrobat and stilt-walker, Laliberte will launched to the station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev. He'll return to Earth in mid-October.

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