Canadian circus tycoon savors space ride "spectacle"

Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:59am EDT
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By Dmitry Solovyov

STAR CITY, Russia (Reuters) - Canadian circus billionaire Guy Laliberte said on Tuesday his return to Earth in a capsule engulfed by flame was the ride of his lifetime.

Laliberte landed last Sunday wearing his trademark clown's red nose after spending two weeks in space during which he hosted a show with singers, dancers and celebrities in 14 cities to raise awareness about the scarcity of clean water on Earth.

For the 50-year-old, who reportedly paid $35 million for his space trip, it was his ride back to Earth that provided the most thrilling show.

"Mission accomplished," a relaxed and smiling Laliberte, a former fire-breather and street performer now worth an estimated $2.5 billion, told a news conference at Russia's space training center outside Moscow. "That was the ride of my lifetime."

The ascent to the International Space Station (ISS) was more of "an emotional and spiritual" encounter with something new, he said. "But coming back was really a ride!"

"You are going down and you are going through these blue layers and ... you start to see the sparks, and it's an amazing spectacle. For me as an entertainer, this was an amazing show."

"I'd go up there right away to just do it again, because it was such a great physical and adrenaline kick for me."

Laliberte returned from the ISS with Russian Gennady Padalka and U.S. astronaut Michael Barratt both of whom had spent almost seven months at the outpost.   Continued...

<p>Ground crew members assist Canadian circus billionaire Guy Laliberte (C) after he returned in the Russian Soyuz Space Capsule near the town of Arkalyk, in northern Kazakhstan, October 11, 2009. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool</p>