From The AP:
A Canadian circus tycoon, an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut blasted off in a spacecraft from the Kazakh steppe Wednesday on a journey to the International Space Station.
Minutes after lifting off from the Baikonur launch facility, the Soyuz capsule shed its rocket stages and entered orbit. On board were Cirque du Soleil founder and space tourist Guy Laliberte along with crew members Jeffrey Williams and Maxim Surayev.
Friends and family on the ground cheered and hugged one another when an announcement that the ship was in orbit came over the loudspeaker. They chanted "Guy! Guy!" and broke out singing Elton John's "Rocket Man."
Laliberte, an experienced stilt-walker and fire-breather dubbed the first clown in space, had donned a bulbous red nose and blew kisses to supporters before the launch. He has paid $35 million for the trip he plans to use to publicize the world's growing shortage of clean water.
Laliberte — who rose from being a street performer and accordionist to founding the circus arts and theater company Cirque du Soleil 25 years ago — is to return to Earth after 12 days. The 50-year-old is worth an estimated $2.5 billion and holds a 95 percent stake in the circus company.
Surayev, 37, and Williams, 51, plan to stay in orbit for 169 days. Williams is on his third space mission and recently became a grandfather.
"I'm glad he's up there — that's what he wanted to do," said the astronaut's wife, Anna-Marie. "Now all the training is behind us and he will just go up and do the mission."
Surayev hung a plush toy lion in front of him at the control panel to signal the beginning of weightlessness. He said his preteen daughters had kept the toy under their pillows to "make sure that the lion smells of home for the next six months."
Laliberte is the seventh paying space tourist to travel to the station and may be one of its last private visitors for several years as NASA retires its shuttle program and turns to the Russian space agency to ferry U.S. astronauts to the lab.
Space Adventures, which organized the private visits, will nevertheless aim to make sure more tourists get to visit the space station in the coming years, company CEO Eric Anderson said, suggesting the number of Russian Soyuz missions could be increased.
Edit: As usual, I get my best ideas after I've already posted.
How long until SkyNet goes active and this happens???
Be afraid. Be very afraid...