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“Cirque du Soleil”
A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly
The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.

  • Parabolic Arc
  • June 9, 2021
Not Many Billionaires Focused on Commercial Space


Richard Branson and then-Gov. Bill Richardson. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Forbes has released its annual list of the world’s billionaires. There are a record 1,426 individuals with an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion in the world. The table below shows the tiny handful of this group — nine individuals — who are currently or have been previously involved in space projects.

Rank Name Net Worth (Billions) Age Nationality Company/
Space Project(s)


Jeff Bezos $25.2 49 American CEO, Founder Blue Origin


Larry Page $23.0 39 American Google CEO, Co-founder Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Resources
21 Sergey Brin $22.8 39 American Google Co-founder Google Lunar X Prize
53 Paul Allen $15.0 60 American Microsoft Co-founder Stratolaunch, SpaceShipOne
SETI array
138 Eric Schmidt $8.2 57 American Google Chairman Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Resources
272 Richard Branson $4.6 62 British Virgin Group CEO, Founder Virgin Galactic
527 Elon Musk $2.7 41 American PayPal, Tesla Motors, Solar City SpaceX
831 Guy Laliberte $1.8 53 Canadian Cirque du Soleil Space tourist
1031 H. Ross Perot, Jr. $1.4 54 American computer services, real estate Planetary Resources


  • Parabolic Arc
  • March 5, 2013
SpaceX’s Elon Musk Makes Debut on Forbes Billionaire’s List

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Elon Musk has made his first appearance on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires. The 40-year-old entrepreneur has landed at 634 on the list with an estimated net worth of $2 billion.

Musk has developed the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon vehicle to send cargo and crew to the International Space Station. His company, SpaceX, has received money under NASA’s COTS  (for cargo) and CCDev (crew) programs. He is also reported to have invested up to $100 million of his own funds into SpaceX.

In addition to his involvement with SpaceX, Musk is a trustee of the X PRIZE Foundation, whose space competitions include the Ansari X Prize, the Google Lunar X Prize and the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

The South African-born entrepreneur also runs two other companies, the electric car producer Tesla Motors and SolarCity, which provides solar energy systems.


  • Parabolic Arc
  • March 13, 2012
World’s First Space Clown Reaps Public Relations Bonanza

Space clown drew more news coverage than Afghan mission
CBC News

Canada’s first space clown can brag that his recent trip to the cosmos generated at least 23 times more international news coverage this year than the country’s mission in Afghanistan.

The figure comes from a media research group hired by Guy Laliberté, the Cirque du Soleil founder who recently became Canada’s first space tourist.


  • Parabolic Arc
  • November 14, 2009
Laliberte: Space Travel is Great


Guy Laliberté recalls ‘amazing ride’ in space
Vancouver Sun

Canadian billionaire space tourist Guy Laliberté spoke with wonder Tuesday about his two-week voyage in space, calling his experience an amazing ride while admitting he had on occasion felt queasy.


  • Parabolic Arc
  • October 15, 2009
Cost of Laliberte’s Space Tourism Adventure Increases

Guy Laliberte (first row, far right) aboard the International Space Station.

Guy Laliberte (first row, far right) aboard the International Space Station.

Final bill for Cirque founder’s trip to space could rise another $10 million
The Canadian Press

The final tab for Guy Laliberte’s visit to the International Space Station could rise to nearly C$50 million (US$47.2 million) after this week’s elaborate international show linking the Cirque du Soleil founder with his terrestrial counterparts.


  • Parabolic Arc
  • October 6, 2009
Cirque du Soleil’s Laliberte: Clown Snouts in Orbit!


AFP reports that when Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte flies into orbit next month on his space tourism joyride, we should be prepared for some wackiness:

Already his screen saver pictures his mission colleagues — US astronaut Jeffrey Williams and cosmonaut Maksim Surayev — in space suits and red clown noses, and he says he will bring six more clown snouts to those now in orbit.

Ah, exciting stuff!


  • Parabolic Arc
  • August 27, 2009