Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 09:44 UK

'Clown' space tourist blasts off

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Space tourist and circus entrepreneur Guy Laliberte has begun his journey to orbit aboard the Soyuz craft which blasted off to the International Space Station.

The Canadian billionaire, who founded the Cirque du Soleil theatre company in the 1980s, reportedly paid $35m for his ticket.

He says he will make the ISS astronauts laugh during his 12-day stay, and produce a web event that highlights the issue of clean water for all.

He was accompanied in the Soyuz TM-16 spacecraft by Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev and US astronaut Jeffrey Williams.

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