FLASHBACK FRIDAY: *NSYNC star may soon be really far out (CNN, July 17, 2002)
Teen idol Lance Bass, a member of the boy-band *NSYNC, has apparently forged a deal that would allow him to say “bye-bye-bye” to Earth during a weeklong visit to the international space station at the end of October.
The key players, representing Bass, MTV, Destiny Productions, MirCorp and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) met Wednesday afternoon at the offices of the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles to conclude a deal.
Sources familiar with what transpired told CNN all parties had come to an agreement, but the Russians were resisting making an announcement until they receive a down payment on their fee, said to be around $20 million.
Reached late Wednesday night outside Moscow, Bass told CNN he was optimistic.
“We’re working on that. We should know this week,” Bass said from Russia’s cosmonaut facility in Star City, Russia, where he has been training for the past six weeks. “I’m a positive person so I always think positively.”
Speaking by telephone from his dormitory at the facility, he confirmed only that he is training for a “fall flight,” saying he could not say anything more.
The Russians formally submitted Bass’ name Monday to the 16-nation space station partnership for approval to visit the orbiting outpost.
NASA has not indicated any desire to block Bass’ visit, so long as he meets training prerequisites.
The deal is fairly complex. In essence, Bass is trying to pay for the ride by cobbling together a series of sponsors and programming exclusives.
At the center of the deal is Amsterdam-based MirCorp, chartered to sell visits to the Russian space station Mir.
The aging station was retired 16 months ago, but the company has continued its efforts to commercialize space travel and brought Russian space officials and the Bass consortium together.
Los Angeles-based Destiny Productions, which has been peddling the television rights to Bass’ space exploits, apparently has reached a deal with MTV for exclusive access to Bass during his continued training and flight to space.
MTV is planning a series of specials, documentaries and live coverage of the launch and mission.
Should he fly, Bass, 23, would be the youngest person ever to travel in space. He would become the third paying tourist. Millionaires Dennis Tito of California and Mark Shuttleworth of South Africa paid their own way to the space station in April 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Bass would fly to the station on a Russia-made Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.