Guy Laliberte, the billionaire founder of Canada's Cirque du Soleil, became the first clown in space on Wednesday when he blasted off into orbit in a Russian rocket. The milestone is being called a major triumph for Canadian clowns, which are a lot like American clowns, except more polite.

Laliberte, a former fire-breather, paid upwards of $35 million to travel to the International Space Station, making him the seventh space tourist since the Russian space program started offering the service. Before launch, Laliberte sported a red clown nose and offered spare noses to his fellow astronauts.

"He's just said 'Super!' He's very happy," crew member Maxim Suraey reported from orbit.

On Friday, the crew is expected to arrive at the orbital outpost, where Laliberte and a seemingly impossible number of other clowns will exit the tiny space capsule.