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.


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.

RankNameNet Worth (Billions)AgeNationalityCompany/
Space Project(s)


Jeff Bezos$25.249AmericanAmazon.com CEO, FounderBlue Origin


Larry Page$23.039AmericanGoogle CEO, Co-founderGoogle Lunar X Prize, Planetary Resources
21Sergey Brin$22.839AmericanGoogle Co-founderGoogle Lunar X Prize
53Paul Allen$15.060AmericanMicrosoft Co-founderStratolaunch, SpaceShipOne
SETI array
138Eric Schmidt$8.257AmericanGoogle ChairmanGoogle Lunar X Prize, Planetary Resources
272Richard Branson$4.662BritishVirgin Group CEO, FounderVirgin Galactic
527Elon Musk$2.741AmericanPayPal, Tesla Motors, Solar CitySpaceX
831Guy Laliberte$1.853CanadianCirque du SoleilSpace tourist
1031H. Ross Perot, Jr.$1.454Americancomputer services, real estatePlanetary Resources


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.


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.


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.


Billionaut Guy Laliberte Vows: I’ll Tickle Astronauts While They Sleep


The Associated Press reports a bit more on billionaut Guy Laliberte’s plans for his space tourism flight later this month:

The man who plans on being “the first clown in space” said Thursday he’s got some surprises planned for the crew of the international space station.

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte told reporters he plans to tickle the professional astronauts while they’re sleeping, and he’s also bringing red clown noses to try to lighten things up on the orbiting station.

“I’m a person with a pretty high spirit, who’s there to crack jokes and make jokes to those guys, and while they’re sleeping, you know, I’ll be tickling them,” Laliberte said.

Oh, good stuff! Read more here.

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!


Company Offers $16K VIP Package for Guy Laliberte’s ISS Launch



Pure Entertainment Group Inc, a bespoke event management and luxury concierge company, recently announced a partnership with the only company that provides human space mission to the world marketplace: Space Adventures Ltd.

This partnership allows Pure Entertainment Group to be one of the first and only companies in Canada to offer bespoke space travel experiences to its very demanding clientele, such as space-related adventure tours, sub-orbital and orbital spaceflights, zero-gravity flights and cosmonaut training programs.


Spaceflight Could Save Laliberte Millions in Gambling Losses


Gambling911.com reports that since Guy Laliberte announced his plans to spend $35 million to fly into space in September, he has cut back on online gambling – where he has been losing a fortune.

Innovative, entrepreneurial, a doting philanthropist Guy may all be, but a profitable high stakes online player he is not. All Guy’s aliases – lady marmalade, patatino, elmariachimacho and ahtata, all hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red, have vanished.

It’s estimated that Guy’s withdrawal means $10 million LESS going into the pockets of sharks Phil Ivey, Phil Galfond and Tom Dwan. His frightening deficits give a strong indication of the brutality of nosebleed stakes, because based on live performances, Guy doesn’t even seem that bad. This is a man who played solid poker on GSN’s High Stakes Poker season four, and has a handsome $696,220 4th placed cash at the WPT Bellagio.

That’s funny. He could pay for a third of his spaceflight just for what he loses in poker.