First poetic social mission in space - Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil and the ONE DROP Foundation, begins training for travel on board SOYUZ TMA-16 to ISS



    MOSCOW, Russia, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du
Soleil and the ONE DROP Foundation, has begun training at the Yu. A. Gagarin
State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City,
Russia for his POETIC SOCIAL MISSION to the International Space Station (ISS).
    Travelling on board the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft with Expedition 21 from
the Russian Federal Space Agency (FSA) with crew members Russian cosmonaut,
Maksim Surayev (Commander) and NASA astronaut Jeffery Williams (Flight
Engineer), Laliberté will become the first Canadian private explorer. His
journey will be the first social/artistic mission in space. The launch is
scheduled for September 30, 2009.
    "Guy Laliberté will bring an innovative and creative perspective to the
crew of Expedition 21, said Mr. Alexey Krasnov, Head of Human Space Flight of
FSA. We believe that the objective of his Poetic Social Mission to raise
awareness of water issues facing the world is part of what space exploration
needs to do. We welcome him as a team member and will offer all the support he
needs to achieve his mission. We are also very impressed with the humanitarian
objectives of the ONE DROP Foundation, founded by Guy Laliberté. With the
theme Water for all, all for water, it wishes to raise awareness to water
issues in the world, ensure that access to clean water is available to all and
putting in place education programs using art. The strong humanitarian values
put forward by ONE DROP Foundation and Guy are shared by the FSA".
    "I have been described as many things throughout my 25 years with Cirque
du Soleil. Fire-breather, entrepreneur, street smart, creative," says
Laliberté. "I am honored and humbled today with my new job description:
humanitarian space explorer. Traveling has always been my way of life and I
have been researching the possibilities of space travel with Space Adventures
Ltd since 2004. But I needed it to be the right time and for the right
purpose. This is the time. And the purpose is clear: to raise awareness on
water issues to humankind on planet earth. My mission is dedicated to making a
difference on this vital resource by using what I know best: artistry. This
will be the first poetic social mission in space. This is also a very symbolic
time for me to join my colleagues of Expedition 21 at Star City since , after
25 years, this is the year that Cirque du Soleil will be introduced to Russia
after so many years! The timing could not be most appropriate!"
    During his 12-day stay at the ISS, Guy Laliberté's POETIC SOCIAL MISSION
will share information about water issues in the world through a singular
poetic approach. The messages he transmits will raise awareness for ONE DROP
Foundation initiatives that promote Water for all, all for water.
    The Canadian Space Agency salutes Guy Laliberté's initiative as Canada's
first private space explorer. The agency will advise Laliberté and he will
meet with Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk while at ISS. "Canada's
leadership role in space exploration is at the forefront of our mandate," said
Dr. Steve MacLean, president of the Canadian Space Agency. "This humanitarian
mission, imagined by a leading entrepreneur and artist, demonstrates the
talent, imagination and dedication that Canadians are recognized for
worldwide."
    Eric Anderson, President and CEO of Space Adventures Ltd. added, "I have
known Guy for many years and is a member of our Orbital Mission Explorers
Circle. His approach to his first spaceflight was always original. Since our
first discussions in 2004, he has wanted to travel in space for a purpose and
to express his unique vision. I believe that his Poetic Social Mission truly
realizes his intentions and we are proud to be able to help him to make it a
reality."

    About Guy Laliberté

    Guy Laliberté was born in Quebec City in 1959. An accordionist,
stilt-walker and fire-breather, he founded Quebec's first internationally
renowned circus with the support of a small group of accomplices. A bold
visionary, Guy Laliberté recognized and cultivated the talents of the street
performers from the Fête foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul and created Cirque du
Soleil in 1984.
    Since the very beginnings of Cirque du Soleil, Guy has insisted on having
a social approach as part of the development of the company. Keenly aware that
Cirque could play a role as agent of change, over 15 years ago, he created
Cirque du Monde, an arts education programme for street kids all over the
world. He also chose to set up the International Headquarters and creative
studios of Cirque du Soleil in the St. Michel district of Montreal, one of the
poorest neighbourhoods in North America, to stimulate a sense of local pride
and ensure the revitalization of the area through artistic stimulation. This
paved the way to TOHU, Cité des arts du Cirque, a project he initiated in the
same neighbourhood. Since early on he has also dedicated 1% of all revenues
generated by Cirque du Soleil to social and cultural programs worldwide.
    Guy was the first to orchestrate the marriage of cultures and artistic
and acrobatic disciplines that is the hallmark of Cirque du Soleil. Since
1984, he has guided the creative team through the creation of every show and
contributed to elevating the circus arts to the level of the great artistic
disciplines.
    In October 2007, Guy Laliberté entered into a second lifetime commitment
by creating the ONE DROP Foundation to fight poverty around the world by
providing sustainable access to safe water. This new initiative stems from the
knowledge that the right to water is key to the survival of individuals and
communities all over the world. It is inspired by the values which have been
at the heart of Cirque du Soleil since its inception: the belief that life
gives back what you have given and even the smallest gesture will make a
difference.

    Awards and Distinctions

    Université Laval (Québec) awarded an honorary doctorate to Guy Laliberté
in 2008. The year before, he received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the
Year Award for all three levels: Quebec, Canada and International. In 2004, he
received the Order of Canada, the highest distinction the country offers. The
same year, he was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most
influential people in the world. In 2003, he was honoured by the Condé Nast
Group as part of the Never Follow Program, a tribute to creators and
innovators. In 2001, he was named a Great Montrealer by the Académie des
Grands Montréalais. In 1997, Guy received the Ordre National du Québec, the
highest distinction awarded by the Government of Quebec.

    About ONE DROP Foundation
    The ONE DROP Foundation: Water for all, all for water.

    The ONE DROP Foundation is an initiative of Guy Laliberté, founder of
Cirque du Soleil.. Its mission is to fight poverty by providing access to
water and raising awareness among people and communities of water-related
issues. The foundation strives to be an agent of change and influence in
making water accessible to everyone, all over the world.
    The initial funding of ONE DROP was provided by Guy Laliberté with a 100
million $ commitment. In addition to the commitment of its Board of Directors,
the ONE DROP Foundation benefits from the expertise of a Scientific Committee,
two Programme Management Committees (one for developed countries, the other
for countries in development), a Financial Ethics and Governance Committee and
a Philanthropic Development Committee. These committees work together to guide
the Foundation in its strategic planning and the implementation of its
projects.
    Important partners have contributed to ONE DROP: Oxfam International, RBC
(Royal Bank of Canada), the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation as well as
Cirque du Soleil which supports and promotes the activities of the ONE DROP
Foundation, whose offices are located at Cirque du Soleil International
Headquarters in Montreal (Canada).

    About Cirque du Soleil

    Cirque du Soleil celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2009. From the 20 or
so performers the company featured when it all began in 1984, Quebec-based
Cirque du Soleil has become a leading provider of quality entertainment with
4,000 employees, including 1,000 artists from some 40 countries.
    Cirque du Soleil has thrilled close to 90 million spectators in more than
200 cities on five continents. In 2009, the organization will have 20
different shows playing around the world. The success of Cirque has been
recognized with a number of awards, notably the Emmy, Drama Desk, Bambi, ACE,
Gémeaux and Félix, as well as the coveted Rose d'or de Montreux.




For further information:

For further information: Tania Orméjuste, Cirque du Soleil, (514)
723-7646 ext. 8335, tania.ormejuste@cirquedusoleil.com

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Cirque du Soleil

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