A Russian Soyuz vehicle carrying two professional space flyers and a circus performer who paid his own way arrived at the international space station Oct. 2, two days after lifting off from Kazakhstan.
NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte docked their Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft to the orbital outpost at 4:35 a.m. EDT.
The pre-dawn docking marked the first time three Soyuz vehicles have been docked to the space station simultaneously. Laliberte paid the Russian Federal Space Agency about $35 million for his 12-day space jaunt. On Oct. 9, two days before he is set to return to Earth with outgoing station commander Gennady Padalka and NASA flight engineer Michael Barratt, Laliberte plans a high-profile space performance to spread the word about the importance of global access to clean water.
The performance will feature Laliberte reading a poem from space, while artists and celebrities in 14 cities around the world participate through a simultaneous webcast. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, and musical recording artists including Peter Gabriel, Shakira, and members of the band U2 are among those slated to participate in the event, billed as the first artistic performance from space.
Laliberte is the seventh paying tourist to fly to space on trips booked through Space Adventures of Vienna, Va.