“ ‘Space clown’ buoyant ahead of space launch”, MSNBC, 28/9. I can’t say I feel impressed with the anticipated antics of the latest space tourist, who is soon to launch on Soyuz TMA-16. Yes, I know it’s his money and he can do with it as he likes, but the “poetical social” blather he plans on indulging in seems frivolous.
Other space tourists have used their time at the space station to conduct scientific experiments, but Laliberté has different aims for his 12 days aboard the orbiting lab. “I am not a scientist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not an engineer,” he said. “I’m an organizer, a showman, and a creator – I have an entertaining personality, so that is really what I am bringing here.” Laliberté has promised to bring each crew member of the space station their own clown nose to wear, but plans to take two along for himself: one red, one yellow – “the yellow one I will wear when I am a little grumpy, and the red one I will wear when I am happy and joyful.”
*Rolls eyes in cynical disgust*
Laliberté also aims to use the trip to promote awareness of world water supply problems. On Oct. 9, he will lead a “poetical social” performance from aboard the station for the One Drop Foundation, an organization he set up in 2007.
“I start with the simple idea of reading a poem, which will involve characters like the sun, the moon and a drop of water,” he explains. “Those characters will then engage in a discussion, which will take the form of a little poetic story that we will read to the population of Earth.” Activists and celebrities, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Colombian pop star Shakira, are to contribute to the performance from 14 cities worldwide, and all of it is to be shown on the foundation’s Web site.
One major reason for water shortages is human overpopulation, but I can be certain he won’t mention that factor. He also, incidentally, has 5 children, which is not helping the environment!
I was oddly reminded of this scene from Stephen Baxter’s novel Titan, where the renegade astronauts enroute to the moon of Saturn are going a bit crazy:
Benacerraf watched, discreetly, as Angel took up position near the water spigots of the galley. And, with his skinny, spindled legs folded under him, he started to play with water. Angel took a syringe now, for example, and filled it with water from a spigot. When he pressed the plunger, slowly and carefully, injecting water into the air, a small bubble grew from the needle’s tip. He jerked the needle away and the water took the form of a tiny planet, floating in the air. Angel worked his needle and produced a whole set of the little water globes, drifting in the air around his head.
Then he took smaller syringes from a set he’d improvised from medical waste, and injected the bubbles with iodine, grape juice, diluted orange juice, to stain them blue, green, yellow, red. Soon he had a whole Solar System, Benacerraf thought, with a miniature Mars and Earth and Jupiter, floating around his bearded head as if around a sun. Angel’s eyes followed the little spheres, entranced.
Benacerraf was no expert on abnormal states of the mind. But she hadn’t tried to discuss this with Mission Control. She wasn’t sure who would be listening any more anyhow. And on a planet where local wars were flaring over water management problems, the image of gaunt Americans playing head games with the wet stuff on some dumb Buck Rogers mission halfway to Saturn would not play well with the public.