Space trip a 'great success': Laliberté
Canadian space tourist Guy Laliberté says his 10-day stay at the International Space Station successfully drew attention to his work to guarantee access to clean water worldwide.
The Cirque du Soleil founder used part of his trip to stage a two-hour, multi-city show from the station on Friday to help raise awareness of global drinking-water problems
The time on the space station was an effective "marketing tool to put the One Drop Foundation on the map," Laliberté told reporters at Russia's cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow on Tuesday.
The 50-year-old Quebec entrepreneur founded the One Drop Foundation in 2007 to fight poverty by providing access to safe water.
"Mission accomplished," Laliberté said. "I still have to evaluate the impact internationally, but so far it looks like a great success."
Laliberté reportedly paid $35 million US for the 12-day trip. He returned to Earth in a Soyuz space capsule on Sunday with Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, who had spent six months on the space station.
Padalka jokingly told reporters that the crew aboard the space station enjoyed "complete freedom and democracy, except for anarchy" during Laliberté's stay there.
Laliberté was the seventh private citizen to blast into space and the ninth Canadian in space. He is expected to be the last private paying tourist to visit the station for some time, as NASA mothballs its fleet of space shuttles and the U.S. space agency relies on Soyuz craft to get back and forth to the space station.
The one-time stilt-walker and fire-eater said that he experienced only one scary moment during his return trip to Earth, as the Soyuz capsule re-entered the atmosphere and plunged toward the planet.
Before returning to Earth, Laliberté had told reporters that watching the Earth from up above helped him appreciate the environment even more. He called the space trip a life-changing experience.
"It's worth every penny and more, I believe, because over and above doing it for myself, there's a lot of other stuff that's going on," Laliberté said.
With files from The Associated Press