A popular Soviet cosmonaut plans to join an American balloonist and a British businessman in an attempt to fly around the world in a balloon - but in one-quarter the time envisioned by Jules Verne's famed novel.

Vladimir Dzhanibekov, a veteran of five Soviet flights and the most well-liked of all cosmonauts, is to lift off from Akron, Ohio, in the second half of November with veteran American balloonist Larry Newman and Richard Branson, a flamboyant British entrepreneur.The daily Trud newspaper Friday carried the details of the flight in a three-tier balloon that will go from the west to the east - across the Atlantic, then traverse Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and land back in North America.

Duration of the flight is expected to be two to three weeks, four times as fast as the trek in Jules Verne's famed "Around the World in 80 Days."

Branson owns Virgin Airlines and Newman, an airline pilot, made the first manned crossing of the Pacific in a balloon along with Ben Abruzzo, Ron Clark, and Rocky Aoki.