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Canadian space tourist starts training for ISS mission


MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Guy Laliberte, the Canadian founder of entertainment company Cirque du Soleil, has started final preparations at Russia's Star City space training center for a 12-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

Laliberte, 50, booked his $35-mln trip with the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos through the U.S. firm Space Adventures, and is set to travel to the ISS on September 30 on board the Russian Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft.

"For several months, Laliberte and his backup - American Barbara Barrett - will be trained to use a spacesuit and on-board means of personal hygiene, and will learn how to cook and eat in zero gravity," Roscosmos said in a statement.

"In addition, they will take a daily Russian language course," the statement said.

Laliberte, the founder of the non-profit One Drop Foundation, earlier called his trip the "first humanitarian mission in space," and said he was devoting it to raising global awareness of clean water issues.

The Canadian billionaire will become the seventh space tourist to visit the orbital station.

Space tourists started flying to the International Space Station in 2001. Dennis Tito, an American businessman and former NASA scientist, became the first space tourist when he visited the ISS in 2001. He was followed by South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, and Gregory Olsen, a U.S. entrepreneur and scientist, in 2005.

In 2006, Anousheh Ansari, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, became the first female space tourist.

U.S. games developer Richard Garriott, the son of former NASA astronaut Owen K. Garriott, went into orbit for 11 days in October 2008 on board a Russian Soyuz TMA-13.

U.S. space tourist Charles Simonyi, one of the founders of Microsoft, made two trips to the ISS - in 2005 and 2009.

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