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Bass Gets Hopeful Sign in Space Quest

Lance Bass of the boy band ‘N Sync ( news – web sites) is working to finalize his contract with the Russian space agency, Russian officials said Monday, voicing optimism that the singer could catch an autumn flight to the international space station ( news – web sites).

Space agency spokesman Vyacheslav Mikhailichenko said Bass has “serious intentions” and that they are negotiating terms of the flight contract. Previously, the agency had sounded lukewarm about prospects for Bass’ flight, saying he stood little chance of boarding a flight scheduled for October because there was too little time left for training.

Another space agency official, who asked not to be named, said the autumn mission could be postponed because of the fuel-line cracks that recently grounded the U.S. space shuttle fleet. He said a delay could give Bass more time to train.

Bass has received clearance from Russian space doctors for a flight, and has been training at the Star City cosmonauts center outside Moscow. Mikhailichenko said Bass has paid for his training, but wouldn’t disclose the sum.

The 23-year-old singer from Mississippi has said it was his childhood dream to travel to space. He’s received support from Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack Corporation, and was working to secure financial backing from other sponsors.

If Bass signs the contract, he’d blast off for a weeklong mission to the station along with Russian Sergei Zaletin and European Space Agency astronaut Frank DeWinne of Belgium.

Neither the space agency nor Bass has commented on financial details of his bid. The world’s second space tourist, South African Mark Shuttleworth, returned to Earth in May after a weeklong trip that cost him $20 million – the same sum the world’s first space tourist, Dennis Tito, paid the Russian space agency for a trip last year.

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