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Cargo Container To Replace Bass On Russian Space Flight

Pop star Lance Bass’ dreams of going into space have officially gone “pop!”

The Russian Space Agency notified NASA on Monday that the ‘N Sync singer won’t fly to the international space station next month.

Bass had hoped to rocket away from Kazakhstan on Oct. 28, boosted by corporate sponsors and a seven-part television documentary. But TV producers failed to raise the estimated $20 million fare, and Russian space officials last week kicked Bass off the upcoming crew.

With the launch of the Soyuz rocket just seven weeks away, there’s not enough time to put anyone else on board. Russian space officials previously indicated that a cargo container weighing the same as Bass would replace the singer once the deal was off.

Bass’ supporters contended the decision was not final and that negotiations were continuing, but Monday’s letter to NASA formalized the matter.

“The letter speaks for itself,” said NASA spokeswoman Debra Rahn. “They’ve officially withdrawn Mr. Bass from the flight.”

The letter from Russia’s director of human space flight was dated Friday and faxed Monday to Frederick Gregory, NASA’s deputy administrator and chairman of the board that was reviewing Bass’ bid to fly to space. NASA promptly forwarded copies of the letter to the other space agencies involved in the station program, namely Canada, Europe and Japan.

Rahn said Russia’s M.V. Sinelshchikov thanked Gregory and other space station officials for reviewing Bass’ proposal to fly to the orbiting outpost. But he noted that the Russian Space Agency could wait no longer for the contractual obligations to be met, she said.

The singer’s publicist, Jill Fritzo, was not immediately available for comment.

Just two weeks ago, Bass and the two men with whom he was to be launched spent a full week training at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The celebrity posed for pictures with astronauts and other space program workers and took part in an Internet chat with school children.

At 23, Bass would have been the youngest person ever in space. He also would have been the third paying space tourist.

“We appreciated his education outreach activities while he was there,” Rahn said. She added that NASA had no comment on Bass’ removal from Russia’s Soyuz crew. “It was a business decision in which NASA had no part.”

While at Houston, Bass said he was confident everything eventually would work out. But if he couldn’t travel this fall, he told reporters, “I would work my butt off trying to go for another mission.”

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