Lance Bass was kicked off a Russian spaceflight twenty years in the past—now he’s again

Lance Bass attends the 2022 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
Enlarge / Lance Bass attends the 2022 iHeartRadio Music Competition in Las Vegas.

Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Photographs for iHeartRadio

On the peak of his fame as a member of the internationally well-known boy band NSYNC, Lance Bass got here inside about two weeks of going to house in 2002.

Bass had accomplished 4 months of rigorous coaching in Russia’s Star Metropolis in the course of the spring and summer season of that 12 months, studying Russian and passing a number of difficult pre-launch exams. The plan was to fly as much as the Worldwide Area Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft alongside two cosmonauts and spend about 10 days in orbit.

This was not a well-trodden path, particularly for a 23-year-old musician who would have been by far the youngest individual to fly into house. By mid-2002, solely two rich businessmen, Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, had ever taken privately paid journeys to house.

Since Bass couldn’t independently finance the journey, he labored with Hollywood filmmakers. As Bass educated, a manufacturing workforce in Hollywood tried to line up about $20 million in promotional financing to pay for the journey. Finally, this might be the journey’s undoing.

The place’s the cash?

“There have been a whole lot of issues with Russia and Hollywood in attempting to make this occur,” Bass stated throughout a latest interview with Ars. “There have been even a few weekends that I might get kicked off the bottom in Russia. They’d put a gun to my head and be like, ‘The place’s the cash? The place’s the cash?'”

Bass didn’t know. The worldwide famous person simply wished to go to house, and he was doing all the things in his energy to get to his aim by finding out onerous and placing his physique via innumerable medical exams. When one medical examination confirmed an irregular heartbeat, Bass underwent surgical procedure to repair it.

After closing negotiations over funding broke down in September, Bass was instructed he would not be going to house. The decision got here simply days earlier than he was resulting from fly to the launch website in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, for closing preparations.

“It was crushing,” Bass stated. “Particularly spending that many hours doing one thing you are so keen about. And I did not actually know what was occurring as a result of once I was coaching at Zvyozdny Gorodok (the Russian identify for Star Metropolis) I did not know what was occurring within the exterior world. There was a single cellphone line that nobody ever known as me on. There was no Web. So it was simply very disappointing.”

Bass had develop into infatuated with house as a child, on the age of 9, when his mother and father drove the household from Mississippi to see an area shuttle launch from Kennedy Area Middle. He thought he would develop into an engineer, and that was the plan proper up till 1995 when he was 16 years previous.

“Justin Timberlake known as me and gave me a suggestion I could not refuse,” Bass stated. “I wasn’t even in school but. I used to be a highschool junior preparing to enter science and math. However Justin known as me sooner or later and stated, ‘Hey, we’re placing this band collectively. We’d like a bass singer. Would you want to maneuver to Orlando and sing with us?’ And I cherished leisure at the moment, so my entire plans modified.”

Since his failed try to enter house, Bass has maintained some involvement within the business. He’s a member of the Nationwide Area Society’s board of governors, for instance. And he would nonetheless prefer to go to house sooner or later—however not only for a couple of minutes. Though driving on a Virgin Orbit or Blue Origin spacecraft can be a “enjoyable rollercoaster experience,” Bass stated he desires to conduct scientific experiments in orbit. So if there is a medical firm on the market that wants an astronaut to work for it in low-Earth orbit, Bass says he is able to go.

The Final Soviet

This month, nevertheless, Bass has planted his flag firmly again within the house neighborhood with the discharge of a brand new podcast known as The Final Soviet. Bass hosts the eight-part podcast, which brings to life the expertise of cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who was in house when the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991. He ended up flying an prolonged mission on the Mir house station—311 days—in order that floor controllers may guarantee the ability continued flying regardless of the chaos on the bottom.

Krikalev might be essentially the most attention-grabbing Russian cosmonaut of all time, other than his hero, Yuri Gagarin. Now 64, Krikalev has spent greater than 800 days in house, was one of many first Russians to fly on the house shuttle, and was a member of the primary expedition to the Worldwide Area Station. At present, Krikalev is extra related than ever, main Russia’s crewed spaceflight packages and offering a significant, trusted hyperlink between NASA and Russia’s house program at a time of excessive pressure between the 2 nations on Earth.

Expedition 1 crew members in Moscow. From left, Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, Expedition Commander William (Bill) Shepherd, and Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko.
Enlarge / Expedition 1 crew members in Moscow. From left, Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, Expedition Commander William (Invoice) Shepherd, and Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko.


On the time of my interview with Bass, solely the primary episode of the podcast had been launched. It largely covers the experiences of Gagarin, whereas setting the stage for Krikalev’s distinctive mission in the course of the fall of the Soviet Union. I discovered it wonderful and am keen to listen to the remaining episodes.

If there’s one disappointment, it is that Krikalev will not be a participant. Bass stated a sequence of interviews was organized final 12 months however was canceled after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“It is an enormous disappointment,” Bass stated. “He was prepared to do that podcast, and I wished to listen to it straight from him. We, in fact, have all his colleagues and associates, and we have now the story right down to a tee. However simply listening to his voice in a brand new interview would have been nice. And simply to have the ability to speak to him myself would have been actually enjoyable.”

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