Page last updated at 05:46 GMT, Sunday, 11 October 2009 06:46 UK

'Space clown' lands back on Earth


Mr Laliberte wore a red clown's nose for much of his time in space.

Billionaire circus entrepreneur Guy Laliberte has returned to Earth after a 10-day tourist visit to the International Space Station (ISS).

A Soyuz capsule carrying Mr Laliberte and two astronauts landed in Kazakhstan at 1032 local time (0432GMT).

Mr Laliberte, who called himself "the first clown in space", used his trip to promote awareness of water shortages.

On Saturday, he hosted an international performance of artists and speakers to draw attention to the issue.

"The team took the landing quite well; they are feeling fine," a space official was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Television footage later showed Mr Laliberte emerging from the capsule wearing the red clown's nose he had worn for much of his time in space.

He travelled back to Earth with Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and Nasa astronaut Michael Barratt from the US, leaving six people still on board the ISS.

Padalka's departure from the station leaves Belgian Frank de Winne in command. De Winne is the first astronaut not from the US and Russian space agencies to hold the position.

Global show

Mr Laliberte, founder of the Cirque du Soleil theatre company, blasted into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 30 September, accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev and US astronaut Jeffrey Williams.

The three docked with the ISS on 2 October.

On Saturday, Mr Laliberte hosted a show called Moving Stars and Earth for Water, which was broadcast live on the website of his charity, One Drop.

Soyuz returns (AP)
The Soyuz capsule parachutes to its landing

The performance involved artists and activists from 14 countries taking it in turns to recite passages from a poem by author Yann Martel, followed by an artistic performance.

During the show, Mr Laliberte said planet Earth looked "so great, and also so fragile".

"We should not forget that we have a great privilege to live on planet Earth," he said.

Mr Laliberte was the seventh private individual to make the trip to the ISS and reportedly paid $35m for his ticket.

Opportunities for tourists to visit the orbiting laboratory are likely to become extremely limited in future.

The expected retirement of the US space shuttles in 2010/11 will mean all Soyuz seats are needed to maintain the resident station crews, which now number six individuals.

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