Canadian circus billionaire Guy Laliberte blasted off in a Russian Soyuz spaceship from Kazakhstan on Wednesday to become the world's seventh space tourist.
The 50-year-old former fire-breather and founder of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil paid more than $35 million for the privilege of flying to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppe.
The Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft blasted into clear blue skies at 8:14 am London time (3:14 am New York time).
"He's just said 'Super!', he's very happy," Russian cosmonaut and crew member Maxim Suraev said of Laliberte.
The Canadian gave the thumbs-up as a toy lion belonging to Suraev's daughter bounced from a string in the capsule.