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Lance Bass Back at Cosmonaut Center

Pop star Lance Bass is back at Russia’s cosmonaut center for a new training session, despite being excluded from the crew of a rocket heading to the international space station next month.

The ‘N Sync singer, who was ordered to leave the Star City cosmonaut training ground earlier this month after failing to pay for the trip, has returned to the center outside Moscow, said Yuri Nikiforov, general director of Atlas Airspace.

“He will not go in October for sure, but he just doesn’t want to interrupt the program,” Nikiforov said by telephone. He spoke after Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed official at the training center in Star City as saying officials there had decided Saturday to let Bass resume training.

Last week, Russian space agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov didn’t deny Bass might return, but stressed that if he did he wouldn’t be training for the October flight or any other space mission.

Bass began training in July, hoping 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 said on Sept. 3 that he would not be part of the crew.

At 23, Bass would have been the youngest person ever in space. He also would have been the third paying space tourist after California businessman Dennis Tito and South African Internet tycoon Mark Shuttleworth, who flew to the station on Russian rockets.