The next residents of the International Space Station launched into orbit aboard a Soyuz spacecraft Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, Russian cosmonaut Max Suraev and spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte lifted off at 2:14 a.m. CDT.
Future Expedition 22 Commander Williams, Soyuz Commander Suraev and Laliberte are scheduled to dock with the station at 3:37 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2. They will spend nine days as members of a joint crew that includes Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA's Mike Barratt and Nicole Stott, the European Space Agency's Frank De Winne, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and the Canadian Space Agency's Bob Thirsk.
On Oct. 10, Padalka will transfer command of the station to De Winne, who will become commander of the next station mission, designated Expedition 21. Padalka, Barratt and Laliberte will land in Kazakhstan at about 11:29 p.m. Padalka and Barratt have been aboard the orbiting laboratory since March 2009.
Laliberte, a Canadian citizen and the founder of Cirque du Soleil, is flying to the station under an agreement between the Russian Federal Space Agency and Space Adventures, Ltd. He will spend nine days aboard the orbiting laboratory.
ZUI also this article from the Montreal Gazette:
The billionaire founder of the Cirque du Soleil blasted off into orbit on a Russian rocket on Wednesday to bring his trademark humour and acrobatic energy into the ultra-serious world of space flight.
Guy Laliberte, 50, a Canadian who spent millions from a personal fortune on his two week visit to the International Space Station (ISS), is likely to be the last such "space tourist" for several years.
He blasted off on schedule from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome, located in neighbouring Kazakhstan, at 0714 GMT alongside a professional Russian cosmonaut and a US astronaut.
Televised images showed the three crew members waving at mission control from the cockpit of the Soyuz spacecraft with a toy lion mascot dangling from the ceiling.
The Soyuz successfully reached its designated orbit and is due to dock with the ISS on Friday at 0835 GMT.
Laliberte, a former fire-eater and stiltwalker, is taking nine red clown noses into space -- one for each member of the ISS crew -- and has said he will not abandon his lighter side once in space.
The circus founder, the seventh person to go into space as a tourist, could be the last for some time as seats will be limited aboard the Soyuz once NASA takes its shuttles out of service from 2010.
"When we have the chance we will send another tourist into space but for the moment we don't know which year it will be," said [Russian space agency head Anatoly] Perminov, confirming there will be no space tourist in 2010.
COL Williams (US Army, ret). Col Suraev (Russian AF). Laliberte. Col Padalka (Russian AF). Dr Barratt. Stott. Col de Winne (Belgian AF).* Maj Romanenko. Dr Thirsk.
* Or Viscount de Winne, if you prefer.