A cosmonaut was stranded in area. Now pop star Lance Bass tells the story.

When a Russian spaceship docked as a lifeboat for 3 stranded males on the Worldwide Area Station in February, one could have questioned if Sergei Krikalev, heading the rescue mission, felt any deja vu.

If that identify would not ring a bell, he is additionally typically often known as “the final Soviet(Opens in a brand new tab)” for his greater than 311 days spent in area because the Soviet Union collapsed 250 miles beneath him in 1991. He was solely meant to be on the Mir station for 5 months. As a substitute, he remained for near a yr, by no means abandoning the outpost.

Immediately, Krikalev, the previous cosmonaut, is the manager director of human spaceflight for the Russian area company. Meaning it is on his watch to ensure NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin get again residence safely after their ship sprang a leak on the station in December 2022. The three marooned crew members have been speculated to return this month. However their mission will now stretch for a yr, till a brand new crew arrives to alleviate them on a separate spacecraft in six months.

Krikalev’s story of being stranded in area is now getting a maybe overdue highlight with a brand new podcast sequence referred to as “The Final Soviet.” And it is being instructed by one other cosmonaut, Lance Bass.


Russia has had 2 leaky area station ships in 2 months. Coincidence?

If that identify would not ring a bell, he is additionally typically often known as the opposite blond heartthrob in NSYNC. That is proper: the Lance Bass, who sang “Tearin’ up my coronary heart” with JT, who had a cameo in Zoolander, a satire on the very severe ambitions of gorgeous folks.

Bass, now 43, may appear an unlikely bard for a podcast in regards to the fall of the Iron Curtain and an area mission gone awry that left Krikalev with no nation. Few could do not forget that boy-band member Bass virtually made it to area on a Soyuz spacecraft himself. In 2002, he spent about six months, on and off, coaching in Star Metropolis, Russia, and was licensed by Russia and NASA(Opens in a brand new tab) to fly a mission to the area station. On the final second, Bass misplaced his seat aboard the ship when his Hollywood financiers did not pony up $20 million to pay for the journey.

In a current interview with Mashable, Bass mentioned he discovered about Krikalev’s story whereas coaching on a Russian navy base for his personal mission. From then on, he thought of the cosmonaut a private hero.

Lance Bass training for space travel

Lance Bass, a former band member of NSYNC, skilled for area journey in 2002.
Credit score: AFP through Getty Photographs

“I heard it from different folks, my professors, after class,” Bass mentioned. “We’d all the time sort of bond, and that is the place you’ll typically go into the sauna and drink vodka and beat one another with branches, and they’d very brilliantly inform their tales of their historical past.”

“The humorous factor is,” he continued, “I do not know if I’ve met him or not.”

The podcast, an iHeartPodcasts manufacturing(Opens in a brand new tab) with Kaleidoscope and Samizdat Audio, comes at a poignant time, with the previous serving as prologue. The Russia-Ukraine Warfare resurfaces tensions from the Chilly Warfare, and, but once more, a crew will spend an unplanned yr in area, though this time not for geopolitical causes. Regardless of the battle and strained relations with the US, the 2 nations’ area companies have continued to work collaboratively on the area station.

Soyuz spacecraft leaking coolant into space

A Russian spacecraft spewed coolant into area in December 2022. A second Russian cargo ship sprung a leak two months later.
Credit score: NASA screenshot

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“You’ll typically go into the sauna and drink vodka and beat one another with branches, and they’d very brilliantly inform their tales of their historical past.”

Nonetheless, that international hostility has made bringing Krikalev’s story to listeners difficult, Bass mentioned.

“Sadly, due to the battle, Russia will not be permitting him to talk, particularly to American podcasters,” he mentioned. “However we did get his family and friends and colleagues, and we actually get the story of him by their eyes.”

Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev working in space

Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev spent over 311 days in area whereas the Soviet Union fell in 1991.
Credit score: NASA / Newsmakers through Getty Photographs

It isn’t clear if Krikalev was prevented from collaborating. He not too long ago joined a NASA information convention and obliged questions from U.S. reporters on the standing of the leaky Soyuz spacecraft. He spoke of working “along with our NASA colleagues” to attenuate security dangers. Roscosmos, nonetheless, didn’t return a request for remark from Mashable concerning the podcast.

The sequence, which debuted Feb. 15(Opens in a brand new tab), weaves in Bass’ personal experiences with the Russian area program, an uncommon story in its personal proper. The previous pop star was simply 23 when he pursued a proposal to fly aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on a 10-day mission. Area tourism is all abuzz in the present day, however twenty years in the past when Bass equipped for the journey, solely two billionaires had traveled earlier than him in privately paid seats. Had it gone to plan, he might need turn into the youngest spacefarer, onboard the area station simply three months earlier than the lethal Area Shuttle Columbia catastrophe.

On the time, NSYNC was on the final leg of its ultimate tour, Justin Timberlake wished to pursue a solo album, and Bass was determining his subsequent profession strikes. Other than the singer’s childhood love of area, the concept of turning into a cosmonaut appeared so random to Bass.

Lance Bass smiling at Ashton Kutcher

Lance Bass, proper, thought he was getting “punked” by fellow superstar Ashton Kutcher in 2002 when he was provided a seat on a spacecraft.
Credit score: Ethan Miller through Getty Photographs

“I assumed it was a joke at first as a result of it simply sounds foolish to even say,” he mentioned. “I actually did suppose Ashton Kutcher was ‘punking’ me as a result of that was such an enormous present.”

Quickly he discovered himself in a U.S. hospital present process a surgical process to right an irregular heartbeat that would have in any other case prevented him from area flight. Then, he was on a airplane to a Russian navy base, immersed in a brand new language, and cramming astrophysics classes.

There have been parabolic flights and rides on a centrifuge, just like the Gravitron at an amusement park, to simulate the consequences of weightlessness in area. Even tenting journeys to check his wilderness survival instincts.

The preparations ended unceremoniously, two weeks earlier than his rocket launch. With out the fee, Roscosmos gave his seat to a different cosmonaut.

Replacement Soyuz spacecraft approaching International Space Station

A substitute Soyuz spacecraft docked on the Worldwide Area Station on Feb. 25.
Credit score: NASA

Now, with so many alternatives for personal residents to fly to area with Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX, Bass is eager about ending what he began. It was the podcast that rekindled his hearth, he instructed Mashable. He hopes it would have the identical impact on his listeners, claiming a brand new viewers enthusiastic about area.

In the meantime, as others ponder Krikalev’s area legacy, he is not accomplished composing it. The not too long ago broken Soyuz spacecraft(Opens in a brand new tab) will return empty to Earth later this month so Roscosmos can carry out a post-flight investigation.

Each the Russian area program and NASA decided in January it was unsafe to convey the crew again. They may oversee the lads’s return residence later this yr on the spacecraft despatched to interchange it.

“We all know that scenario will not be superb,” Krikalev mentioned then, “but it surely’s not a scenario with deadend the place we haven’t any resolution.”

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